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Child Support FAQs

Child Support FAQs

Do you have support Questions?

We have compiled a list of questions we hear regularly from our clients regarding child support and have provided the answers below.

Child support payments in Massachusetts are based on each of your respective incomes, a percentage of total income in the home that can provide for necessities of life.  The Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines do provide for deductions such as health insurance, dental insurance, other support orders to other children as well as day care costs. 


In Massachusetts, child support is treated separately from contributions toward college expenses.  The parenting plan also factors into what the final guideline will be. The party who has the children more is entitled to a greater proportional share when the calculation is figured. If two parties have joint physical custody and make the same amount of money, there will likely be no child support ordered. 

Any material change of circumstance, such as a loss of income as the result of a job loss, injury or illness, or termination of employment because of a reduction in work force will be a reason to request a support modification.  If you were to quit your job, that not be considered a material change in circumstances. Also, you should be aware that if you were to received unemployment benefits, that would be considered income for child support purposes. 

Even though you may not be working, there are other sources of income that the court may look to for a child support order.  These could include workers’ compensation, fellowship or grant, annuity payment or pension payments. Benefit amounts from unemployment checks, Social Security Disability, VA or retirement benefits will also qualify as income for child support purposes.   If you are not working and have no income and are not disabled, the court may order you to perform and job search and keep a log of the various positions that you apply for, given your qualifications. 

As your attorneys, we can file with the court a “complaint for contempt,” which compels the noncustodial parent to pay what’s owed or face serious consequences. You may also be entitled to request attorney’s costs if the court makes a finding of contempt.

Child support is typically paid through a child’s 18th birthday. However, there are certain circumstances that may result in the court determining that a child is not emancipated for child support purposes and it can extend until age 21.  If that happens, it is calculated at a reduced rate. This generally occurs when the child is still enrolled full time in college.

Provided the agreement is fair and reasonable and there is a good reason behind your reason to deviate from what the guideline amount is, the court will usually accept your agreement and make it an order.

Child support issues aren’t just financial, they can be very emotional ones too. That’s why it’s essential to heed the advice of a skilled Massachusetts family law attorney, who can offer experienced, objective guidance to help you obtain the fair outcome for your situation.  An attorney can help ensure that the guidelines are being calculated correctly and the financial information is being provided to the court in a complete manner. Life events can change any set of circumstances and force us to adapt to new challenges. We are accessible to answer questions that address a wide range of concerns as part of our working relationship.

Yes. Either parent may apply to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue Child Support Enforcement DOR/CSE for services to:

  • Enforce and collect an existing child support order;
  • Establish paternity for a child under 18 years of age;
  • Get a child support order for a child under 18 years of age;
  • Modify a child support order for a child under 18 years of age; and/or
  • Enforce past-due support owed under a court order for child support

If you apply for DOR/CSE services, both you and the other parent will become their “customers”.

Depending on your circumstances and the amount of information you provide, DOR may be able to help you:

  • Locate the other parent;
  • Establish paternity if your child was born out of wedlock (you were not married to the other parent when the child was born);
  • Arrange for paternity testing for both parents and the child;
  • Establish a child support order, including an order for medical insurance coverage;
  • Establish and enforce a medical insurance order;
  • Collect child support payments and send them to the custodial parent;
  • Review your child support order for potential modification; and/or
  • Enforce a child support order

To apply directly with the Massachusetts DOR for child support services click here.

Child support in Massachusetts is calculated using the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines.

The Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines are the legal guidelines published by the Probate and Family Court Massachusetts Court System every four years which defines income standards, outlines factors considered in setting the amount of child support, and various grounds for a deviation/modification.

Judges use the Child Support Guidelines Worksheet to figure out how much child support to order, but they have the discretion to deviate up or down from the guideline amount if they have a good reason to.

The 2021 Child Support Guidelines worksheet can be found here


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