Every four years, the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines are revised. These are the guidelines judges use for the presumptive determination of how much child support should be paid in a case. As a result of this most recent revision, which will go into effect on September 15, 2017, there are five categories of substantive changes and clarifications to the older Child Support Guideline version. Under the new Child Support Guidelines:
- UNDER AND OVER AGE 18: There is a distinction between children under age 18 and children 18 years or older (between age 18 through age 23) who may be covered by the Child Support Order. A child age 18 or older, who is still enrolled and attending high school shall be deemed under age 18. If there is a child over age 18, who may be covered by this Child Support Order, then there is a “Table B”, that reduces the amount of support by 25%.
- COLLEGE COSTS CAPPED: There is a cap for a court ordered parental contribution to post-secondary education expenses. This is described as 50% of the undergraduate, in-state resident costs of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. This limitation does not apply to children already enrolled in post-secondary education before the effective date of these guidelines or for parents who are financially able to pay educational expenses using assets or other resources. When the court considers child support for a child over age 18 and contribution to the child’s post-secondary education expenses, the court shall consider the combined amount of both orders.
- CHILD CARE AND HEALTH CARE COSTS: In order for both parents to equitably share these costs, the parent who is paying the health care coverage and/or child care cost can deduct that from his or her gross income on the worksheet. Then there is a proportional adjustment to the child support order to reflect a sharing of both the child care cost and health care cost. The adjustment is not a dollar for dollar credit, as there is a 15% cap built into the formula.
- MINIMUM AND MAXIMUM FOR CHILD SUPPORT: The presumptive minimal amount that each non-custodial parent must pay increased from $18.46/week to $25.00/week. This presumes a combined income of both parties that does not exceed $115.00/week. The presumptive maximum amount of combined income to be used in the new Guidelines remained at $250,000.00. Additional Child Support for income in excess of $250,000.00 is still within the discretion of the court.
- PARENTING TIME EFFECT ON CHILD SUPPORT: There is no reduction in the amount of child support unless there is an equal/close to equal (50/50%) parenting plan. The new Guidelines eliminated the 60/40% calculation. This means that a parent will have to pay the full amount of child support if his/her parenting time is anything less than an equalized (close to 50/50%) amount of time.
The method for child support calculation of the 50/50% parenting time remains the same: the difference between the amounts each parent would pay the other, which is paid to the lower wage earner. However, as with prior Guidelines, these 2017 Guidelines allow the court to deviate (either increase or decrease) from the amount of child support if the facts of a case deem it appropriate.
To speak with a lawyer about divorce or other family law matter, contact Mavrides Law in Boston, Newton, or Quincy, MA. To schedule an initial consultation, call 617-723-9900 or contact the firm at email@example.com