Child support is meant to ensure that your children are able to lead healthy and productive lives, both now and in the future. In an extremely direct way, child support is at the heart of what parenting is all about: caring for your children by meeting their needs, no matter which parent they may be living with at the time.
Child support is a topic that can have a very polarizing effect on both parents. All single parents with children should have a basic understanding of child support. Unless parental rights have been legally terminated, every parent in the U.S. must contribute financially to the raising of his or her child.
Both parents have an obligation to provide for their children financially. Likewise, a child has a right be supported by his or her parents. In situations where one parent is the primary caregiver for of the children and the children reside more than 50% of the time with that parent, that parent’s responsibility is fulfilled by being the custodial parent. The other parent then makes a child support payment which fulfills that non-custodial parent’s financial responsibilities to make sure that the children’s needs are met.
In most cases, the support amount is based upon an intricate formula known as the Massachusetts child support guidelines. This formula provides a clear framework for both parents to meet their payment responsibilities. The guidelines borrow terms from the financial world, using words like credit and deduction to calculate child support.
Generally, the court will order a parent who is paying child support (including parents who are receiving support under the shared-time payer guidelines) to exchange specific financial information on an annual basis so that you can see the other parent’s income and determine whether your support is correct or whether it needs to be adjusted. To determine whether the payments you make or receive are being properly paid or credited, you can contact the Massachusetts Department of Revenue Child Support Enforcement Division to request a printout or view payments via your online account.
A non-custodial parent sometimes believes that child support money will be wasted by the custodial parent somehow on frivolous expenses that are not related to the children. In some cases, the non-custodial parent would prefer to give gift cards for groceries or purchase clothing for the children in lieu of a weekly cash child support payment. Once a child support order is entered by the court however, this type of arrangement will not be used to satisfy a child support obligation.
If the paying parent fails to make child support payments or misses a deadline, the state or a private party can file an complaint for contempt to enforce the court order. The child support lawyers at Wright Family Law Group understand the complexities involved in enforcement and contempt actions and can help you navigate the situation, whether you are pursuing the judgement or have been served one.
There are occasions when a custodial parent will not honor custody or visitation orders, and there is the temptation to withhold child support until the other parent pays up. This is not allowed, and the court will not be pleased if this happens. Child support payments and parenting time are considered to be separate issues in Massachusetts, and one will not affect the other. An obligation to financially support your children will remain intact, regardless of any visitation issues.
A guardian who has custody of a child or children when both parents are unable or unwilling to care for their children can also petition the court for an order of child support to them to be paid by either or both parents.
The answers to your Massachusetts child support questions depend on your particular circumstances. Do you have questions about calculating child support? Modifying or enforcing child support? Schedule a free initial consultation with a family law attorney to help safeguard your children’s futures.
Depending on your role as a custodial or non-custodial parent, we can vigorously fight for your desired child support demands or proactively secure reduced payments for you. Above all, our Massachusetts child support attorneys retain the well-being and maintenance needs of your child as our foremost priority.
Call us now at (978) 851-2291 to schedule a meeting with an experienced family law attorney. Your peace of mind is priceless. For your convenience, appointments may be scheduled during flexible hours. Our office is centrally located in Tewksbury near Route 93 and Route 495. We serve clients in Middlesex and Essex County.