New Child Support Guidelines
by Melaney G. Hodge, Esq.
On September 15, 2017, new Child Support Guidelines were implemented in the Probate and Family Court.
The major changes to the Child Support Guidelines are as follows:
1. Minimum Amount of Child Support: The minimum weekly support was increased to $25.00 per week.
2. Allocation of Parenting Time: The guidelines have eliminated the provision whereby a parent could argue for a deviation if their parenting time was more than one-third, but less than one-half.
3. Childcare and Health Insurance Costs: The guidelines now provide for a proportional adjustment with a cap for either party that pays childcare and health insurance expenses.
BEWARE: The guideline forms as provided online do not accurately calculate the offset for childcare and health insurance costs. It is important that you hand-draft the guidelines to ensure the child support obligation is correct.
4. Children Between 18 and 23: In the previous guidelines, the Court had the ability to deviate from the presumptive guideline amount if a child was over the age of 18 but under the age of 23. The new guidelines provide a specific formula for children within these gap years.
5. College Expenses: The guidelines have clarified the Court’s ability to order a parent to contribute to post-secondary education. Given the dramatic rising cost of college, the guidelines provide that “[n]o parent shall be ordered to pay an amount in excess of fifty percent of the undergraduate, in-state resident costs of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, unless the Court enters written findings that a parent has the ability to pay a higher amount.”
6. Modification: The guidelines provide specific factors and/or circumstances that justify a change to a previous child support obligation.
7. Self Employment, Imputed Income, and Attributed Income: The guidelines have specifically distinguished imputed income from attributed income. Imputed income is when an individual actually receives income that is undocumented or unreported. Attributed income is when an individual is unemployed or underemployed and has the ability to earn greater income.
The new guidelines may be found here.
If you are involved in litigation, it is important to know your legal rights. Please contact our office today to schedule a free consultation.