The Executive Office of the Trial Court of Massachusetts located in Boston, Massachusetts, is responsible for creating child support guidelines and worksheets for calculating child support payments in paternity, divorce, and other family law cases. New guidelines will be going into effect on June 15, 2018. These amended child support guidelines do not reflect a change in the Massachusetts child support law as written. The child support guidelines continue to presume that children have a primary residence with one parent and spend approximately one-third of the time with the other parent. The amendments represent a change in the presumptive or default calculations of the amount of child support to be ordered by the Massachusetts Probate and Family Courts. Judges have the discretion to order more or less than these amounts based on the specific facts of the case. Otherwise, the Probate and Family Courts must order the amounts set forth in the guidelines and accompanying worksheets, unless the parties agree otherwise.
On September 15, 2017, child support guidelines were issued that created changes factoring in college aged dependent children. The 2017 child support guidelines created a small presumptive decrease for financially dependent children attending college or university who were over the age of 18 and under the age of 23. Additionally, presumptive calculations based on parenting time were removed from the child support worksheets.
Prior to these changes in 2017, the Massachusetts child support guidelines were last changed as of August 1, 2013. These guidelines included a presumptive reduction of child support based on parenting schedules that were more than one-third but less than one half of the time for the parent who is not the residential parent, or a nearly fifty-fifty or equal parenting schedule.
Effective June 15, 2018, new Massachusetts child support guidelines and worksheets will go into effect that retain the consideration of college aged-children and again consider parenting time or the parenting schedule. The worksheets will again consider parenting schedules with equal or close to equal parenting time. The worksheets also create a presumptive calculation for when there is more than one child covered by the child support order, and each parent provides a primary residence for at least one child. This covers instances where children of the same parents do not share the same parenting arrangement or schedule. Unfortunately, this update does not take into account the changes in Federal tax law resulting from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
Whenever the child support guidelines are amended, there may be a basis for reducing or increasing a child support order. One of the grounds for filings a Complaint for Modification of child support is that there is now a difference between the amount of the existing child support order and the amount that would result from application of the current child support guidelines.
If you are a party to a child support order by a Massachusetts Court and wish to discuss the potential increase or reduction of your child support payment, please call me at 617-431-8071 to schedule a consultation.
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