Understanding the Ins and Outs: Child Support
What is Child Support?
Divorce is tough on everyone involved. The process and aftermath, no doubt, can certainly take a greater emotional and psychological toll on children involved.
Child support solves one of the primary challenges newly divorced parents face—financial obligation. Take this study from the American Academy of Pediatrics regarding financial issues and its impact on kids—it shows a negative correlation between total family debt and poor social and emotional well-being of children.
As the separation comes full circle, you can see why it's so important to get this next part right and understand how these laws apply to you. We can help.
Child support is an attempt to hinder further stress and prevent kids from experiencing any negative financial impact as a result of divorce. Its purpose is to bridge the gap and provide consistent monetary backing that focuses on basic needs, including:
What's more, it also can help reduce poverty and public spending on welfare and lessen other high-touch issues among families' post-separation.
While many states share a similar definition of child support and what it covers, varying state laws and guidelines, as well as details that might be particular to your case, make it critical to find a local family law attorney to help navigate these pains, and ensure a fair overall agreement and settlement for both children and parents.
Additional examples of child support might include, but are not limited to:
- Education and associated fees such as books and other supplies
- Private school or college tuition
- Medical care, insured and uninsured
- Travel or transportation
- Extracurricular activities such as camp or sports
When requesting child support from your former significant other, it's important to understand what you're asking for and if it falls under or within state guidelines and parameters. Avoid wasting time and money with a team of family law experts like Matthew T. Desrochers that can deliver a legally-appropriate proposal on your behalf.
How is Child Support Calculated?
The parent without full custody—otherwise known as the noncustodial parent or obligor—shoulders the responsibility of a monthly agreed upon stipend that's typically based on income and routinely paid to the primary caregiver. It's likely for a set amount of time until the child or children turns 18 years old.
Calculating child support happens within the Court System. The State of Massachusetts, in particular, uses nearly 30 points of income sources to inform potential child support and a specific payment plan. A few examples include:
- Salaries, wages, overtime, and tips
- Self-employment income or income from business partnerships
- Commissions, royalties, or bonuses
- Workers' compensation, disability, personal injury, or other insurance benefits
- Interest and dividends
- Social security or unemployment
As typical of Court Systems, they also will take into consideration influences such as ability (or inability) to pay and overall financial needs and support of one or multiple children. An attorney, like many of the issues, discussed related to child support, can help mitigate these generalizations or unknowns and the role they may (or may not) have on your specific circumstances.
A U.S. Census Bureau report shows collective data highlighting income and child support program participation. In it, overall child support payments averaged nearly $5,150 annually or $430 per month with men largely holding the sole obligor role.
These numbers might give you an idea or sense of what a Child Support payment might look like, or you can lean on tools such as this child support calculator or State worksheet.
How Are Child Support Payments Made?
Typically, when one parent is ordered to pay child support to the other, the amount they owe is taken out of their paycheck by their employer. The payment is submitted through the Department of Revenue and as such, is delivered to the custodial parent.
Can You Modify Child Support in Massachusetts?
If you and your former spouse agree on a child support modification, this arrangement will significantly simplify your overall situation. A judge will review the revised agreement and sign-off. If, for some reason, a judge does not provide his or her official approval on the new order and your former spouse has a change of heart in the future, you will be responsible for the amount you missed. For this reason, it's critical to ensure the modified agreement is concrete.
Reaching an amicable agreement regarding child support—and any modifications, at that—can be a challenging feat depending on your relationship with your significant other. If you find yourself in this situation, to move forward, you will need to file a motion with the court to request an alteration. In order for this request to be granted, you'll have to prove that there has been a change in circumstances that now prevent you from making your child support payments.
More specific examples of changes in circumstances that might qualify for child support modification might include:
- You involuntarily lost your job or experienced a reduction in your income
- You are responsible for the support of a new child
- You became disabled
- You or your spouse gets remarried
- There have been notable changes in other factors that the court took into consideration when the order was first made
- You experienced a short-term emergency (medical, job loss, or otherwise)
The conditions—permanent or temporary—will inform the type (and possibly, length) of the modification. If your hardship, for example, is only temporary—such as an unexpected short-term emergency or job loss, you may be granted a temporary modification of your child custody order. In short, the specific scenario will define the terms of the modification.
Contact Our Firm to Get Started
Put simply, we help you navigate the child support process, its ups, and downs and fight for what really matters—the best outcome for your children. Consider our family lawyers your reliable, no-hassle, go-to resource to get you to the finish line using the right steps, legal knowledge, and expertise. And more importantly—empathy and understanding every step of the way.
Questions about divorce or child support? Our family lawyers with the Law Offices of Matthew T. Desrochers are ready to prepare and guide you through initial proceedings. If you're ordered to pay for child support or will be the recipient of it, we'll have you and your family's best interest in mind as we work toward a solution.
We're not here to sell, but offer you the right guidance based on your unique situation. Call any one of our team of experts with the Law Offices of Matthew T. Desrochers 781-279-1822 today.
The Law Offices of Matthew T. Desrochers provides services to the following counties—Essex, Suffolk, and Middlesex.