New Child Support Guidelines Effective October 2021
Massachusetts has released a new set of child support guidelines that will go into effect on October 4, 2021. Massachusetts is required to review the Child Support Guidelines every 4 years and make changes as necessary. The new Child Support Guidelines for Massachusetts mainly focused on updating income amounts and shared parental contributions to reflect the economic changes in the last few years. Below are the major changes for the 2021 update.
The task force added the clarification “income derived from stock options and similar incentives” as a type of income that is becoming a more common method of compensating employees. This is meant to highlight that, under existing law, a person cannot avoid a child support obligation by choosing to be compensated with stock options.
Previously, the minimum order was $25 a week. The task force recognized that this amount left some payors (the person paying the minimum order) without the ability to support themselves. There is now a new standard of paying $12 per week. The new minimum should not limit the Court’s discretion to set a higher or lower order, including setting a child support order at $0.
Changes to the Qualifying Amount of Income
The guidelines were updated to increase the combined maximum income level of both parties to $400,000. Previously the cap in which the child support guidelines applied was a combined income from both parties of $250,000. You can view the updated increases to the income levels in the 2021 Child Support Guidelines Chart.
Child Care Costs
Reasonable child care costs are defined as a maximum of $355 per week, per child. This by no means requires parents to pay $355 a week for child care, it simply sets a maximum reasonable amount for child care.
The 2021 Guidelines update redefined the shared parental contribution by each parent’s proportional income. Previously, a parent paying for child care was given only a 15% credit for the costs of child care. This change may have a significant impact on the amount of child support.
Incremental Adjustments for Additional Children
The 2021 guidelines have increased the amount of support based upon the number of children. If you have two or more children, then under the 2021 guidelines, you will receive more child support than under the 2018 guidelines.
You can view the adjustment factors used to calculate child support when the child support order is for more than one child in Table B of the 2021 Child Support Guidelines Worksheet.
Additional Resources and Forms
The guidelines, forms, resources will go into effect on October 4, 2021. Below you can find the links to all of the provided content:
- 2021 Child Support Guidelines Worksheet – this is the worksheet/form that you can use to calculate child support.
- 2021 Child Support Guidelines Chart – this is a chart of per child calculations based on income discussed in the Guidelines.
Contact a Massachusetts Child Support Lawyer today
It’s important to note that existing child support orders are not automatically changed to comply with the new guidelines unless the parties specifically agree to recalculate child support within the terms of an Agreement. In order to obtain a new child support order, you must file a Modification with the court.
If you have more questions about how the new child support guidelines might affect your child support, you should contact a Massachusetts child support lawyer who can make recommendations on modifications to your child support plan.