Boston Child Support Lawyer
When a marriage ends and children are involved, there will always be major issues that need to be resolved – issues that often lead to strong disagreements between parents. Child support, in particular, is often a sticking point that takes significant effort to make a final decision on. Both parents want what is best for the children, but the idea of what “best” means can vary considerably.
At Infinity Law Group, we have helped numerous clients work through child support and divorce issues to reach an outcome that they can be happy with. As your legal representative, our firm will work diligently to make sure you receive a fair outcome, one that reflects the realities of your financial situation and ensures your children get the support they need.
How Massachusetts Decides Child Support
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has attempted to refine the child support decision process by introducing a mathematical formula that is used in all child support cases. The formula takes into account several factors, including:
- Gross income of custodial parent
- Gross income of non-custodial parent
- Age of children
- Health insurance costs
- Child care costs
The court will utilize all of this information to come up with a number that it believes is fair to both parents, that will be enough to properly take care of the needs of the children and that meets guidelines set by the state for child support.
Child Support Payments Last Until Emancipation
Once the court decides on child support payments, the non-custodial parent can expect to make these payments until the children are emancipated from their parents. Emancipation depends on the circumstances of each child. If the child is over 18 and no longer depends on the support of the parents, then he or she no longer requires child support. If the child is between 18 and 21, but still needs the support of the parents, then child support payments continue. Child support payments may last up through the age of 23 if the child pursues a qualified education program, such as going to college.
The parent making the payments should understand that the only thing that can alter the requirement for making payments, aside from emancipation, is a court decision to alter the payments. Bankruptcy, the loss of a job, illness – none of these remove the requirement to make payments.
Seeking The Right Level Of Child Support
If you are the custodial parent, you probably want to get as much child support as the court will allow. This makes sense, as the cost of raising even a single child can be considerable. The more children you have, the more difficult it becomes to meet all of their financial needs, especially if you are a single parent.
If you are the non-custodial parent, you still want to take care of your children as best you can. However, you also need to be able to take care of yourself. You need child support payments that accurately reflect your ability to pay, not payments that cater only to the desires of the custodial parent. You also want to be sure that the payments are used for the children, not for the care of the other parent.
The Child Support Process
Our firm has stood for clients on both sides of this situation, so we understand the complications involved. We always advise clients to reach a fair agreement with the other parent outside of court if at all possible. We can meet with you, our client, and the other parent and his or her attorney to come to an agreement that everyone will be satisfied with. The court will still be the one to decide on the final payment amount, but because you and your spouse are both working together, you will be able to accept the decision and move on without a costly court battle.
If you and your spouse are in disagreement and cannot come to terms outside of court, our firm will do everything we can to see that the child support decision is fair and considers your needs.
Revisiting An Existing Order
If you are unhappy with the order given by the court, you do have the opportunity to revisit it if you want. You may feel the decision is unfair, or your circumstances may change to the point where you need to alter the amount you are paying or being paid. Our firm can assist you with this process.
Child Support Enforcement
If the non-custodial parent is failing to pay the required child support, our firm can help you bring this up to the court and ensure that the payments are made.
When Can I Deviate From The Child Support Guidelines?
The Child Support Guidelines are just that – guidelines. They are guidelines for judges, attorneys and parties to determine what might be a fair amount of child support. However, there are instances where a deviation from the guidelines makes sense in light of the situation of the family. If you, the attorney, or the judge deviates from the guidelines, they are required to justify the reasoning.
A deviation from the guidelines maybe warranted if one or more of the following are met:
- One or more of the children has special needs
- One or more of the children or parent has extraordinary medical, health insurance, child care costs or other expenses
- Application of the Guidelines leaves one of the parents without the ability to support themselves
- The payor is in prison
- Application of the Guidelines would result in a wide disparity in the standard of living of the parents
- A parent has extraordinary travel or other expenses related to parenting
- A parent provides less than 1/3 of the parenting time
- Application of the Guidelines would not be in the best interest of the child
- The combined income of the parties exceed $250,000
If any of those criteria are met, then a deviation from the guidelines might be justified.
Are Parenting Plans and Support Orders Permanent?
The short answer to this question is ‘no’. The courts understand that as time passes, things change and it makes no sense for either parenting plans or support orders to be permanent. Kids get older, parents get promotions or change jobs, and circumstances change.
This being the case, a parent can ask to modify his or her child support order if there would be a difference between the amount paid and the amount owed under the guidelines or if more than three years have elapsed since the court last reviewed the order. A parent can seek to modify a parenting plan when there has been a “significant change in the material circumstances”. This standard essentially means that when things change and make your parenting plan difficult, nonsensical, impossible, or against the best interests of your kids, the court can review the plan and make changes.
Contact Our Child Support Attorneys Now
If you have questions or concerns about child support, we can help. Our firm offers a free phone consultation, where you can discuss your situation with a child support lawyer and we can help you decide what your next steps should be.
Contact us now to get started.