Massachusetts Child Support Payments

Child support is designed to ensure both parents contribute financially to their children's care after they separate.

Like all U.S. states, Massachusetts uses a formula to determine how much each parent should contribute, and the result serves as a guideline for the judge who issues the child support order.

For a typical family, the Massachusetts formula produces the highest payment in the country, according to a 2019 study by Custody X Change. When a parent in the Bay State would pay $1,200 a month in child support, a parent in the same situation elsewhere may pay a third of that.

A judge can deviate from the formula under certain circumstances, such as when a child has special needs or parents agree to an alternate amount.

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How child support is calculated

In Massachusetts, the parent with less parenting time typically pays child support monthly, though a judge can order weekly payments. If parents have nearly equal time with the children and both contribute financially, the parent with the higher income pays.

Fill out the Child Support Guidelines Worksheet to determine who will pay in your case and calculate your guideline support amount.

You'll need to enter the number of eligible children you have together, each parent's approximate portion of parenting time and their gross weekly income.

Eligible children are typically under 18 or still in high school. However, support may continue to age 21 if the child still lives with a parent and is financially dependent on them, or until 23 if the same circumstances apply and the child is pursuing an undergraduate degree.

Indicate whether the children live with each parent for nearly equal time (shared physical custody) or with one parent for at least two-thirds of the time (sole physical custody). The third option, for parents who each provide the primary home for a different child (split physical custody), is rare.

Gross weekly income is the amount earned from work, tips and other sources before taxes. Costs for child care, health insurance and other support payments then get subtracted from each parent's total.

Low-income and high-income families

If a parent has a weekly gross income of less than $115, the support guidelines recommend they pay $25 a month in child support. A judge can order a lower or higher payment if they think it would better fit the circumstances.

The guidelines cap out at a yearly income of $250,000 for both parents combined. When parents earn more, their support payment is based solely on $250,000 (though the judge can increase the payment if it would benefit the children).

Paying child support

The Massachusetts Department of Revenue has details on how to pay support. The paying parent shouldn't pay the other parent directly, because then the court couldn't track it. In some cases, support is withheld from the paying parent's paycheck.

Modifying child support

You can request a child support modification every three years. You'll need to show the court that your payment differs from the current guideline amount, you've lost or can no longer afford health insurance for the children, or a major change in circumstances has occurred, such as a job loss or a change in parenting time.

If you request a modification before three years have passed, you'll need to prove that a major change in circumstances is impacting your ability to pay.

Enforcing a child support order

If a parent misses child support payments, the Department of Revenue can automatically take actions like suspending their driver's license or placing a lien on their bank account.

When a parent routinely fails to pay support, you may need to bring a contempt of court case against the other parent to have a judge enforce child support orders.

Keeping track of payments and expenses

Remember that a child support order is legally binding and must be taken seriously.

Whether you're paying or receiving support, the Custody X Change app can help you keep track of payments. Log details of every one into your expense tracker to ensure you're sticking to the court order.

You can also track other child-related expenses and print an invoice if the other parent needs to reimburse you.

Custody X Change keeps you on top of all aspects of child custody, including payments and expenses.

Estimating parenting time could cost you thousands a year in child support. Let Custody X Change calculate your time.

Calculate My Parenting Time Now

Estimating parenting time could cost you thousands a year in child support. Let Custody X Change calculate your time.

Calculate My Time
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Estimating parenting time could cost you thousands a year in child support. Let Custody X Change calculate your time.

Calculate My Parenting Time Now

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