New Massachusetts child support guidelines went into effect January 1, 2009. The changes to the child support guidelines are intended to simplify the support obligations of both parents. The rationale for the new guidelines was based upon societal changes that recognize the participation of both parents in their children’s lives. The guidelines are meant to benefit the children and families, particularly assisting as parents reorganize their relationships and finances.
The Massachusetts child support guidelines provide a calculated child support order based upon the income of both parents, and in consideration that both parents support their children. The calculated figure provides guidelines for cases establishing or modifying child support. There is a rebuttable presumption that the amount applies, but judges do retain the authority to exercise judicial discretion in making child support orders.
Several principles apply in determining child support in Massachusetts. The guidelines are designed to maintain the standard of living for the child, encourage joint parental responsibility for the children, recognize non-monetary contributions and involvement of both parents, and to ensure health care coverage for the children.
Parenting time is precious; children should enjoy the maximum parenting time possible with both parents. The new guidelines are based upon the children spending approximately 2/3 of the time with one parent (Recipient) and 1/3 of the time with the other parent (payor). When there is approximately equal parenting time the child support guidelines can be used twice to calculate whether there should be a child support order. This requires the guidelines to be calculated a second time reversing the roles of recipient and payor. Calculating the difference between the two figures yields the child support amount.
The guidelines are intended to consider reasonable child care costs and the costs for health insurance, including dental and vision insurance. The recipient is responsible for the first $250.00 of routine uninsured medical and dental expenses, and uninsured expenses above that amount are shared by the parties. Other child related expenses may by allocated to the parties on a case-by-case basis, including extra curricular activities, such as dance, sports or music lessons, private school tuition, summer camps, and post-secondary education.
The new Massachusetts child support guidelines recognize that circumstances may change and incorporates the authority to review the guidelines every three years, or sooner if there is a material change in circumstance. The new child support guidelines provide a presumptive application of the child support calculated using the new formula, but deviations from the guideline may be made by agreement of the parties approved by the court. For parents engaged in mediation, this means that you are in control of how you wish to support your children post divorce or separation.
The family and divorce mediators in the Worcester, MA office of Parker Mediation serve the Central Massachusetts and Boston metro-west communities such as Clinton, Framingham, Fitchburg, Leominster, Marlborough, Millbury, Shrewsbury, Sutton, Westborough and Worcester, Massachusetts.