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Massachusetts Child Support Frequently Asked Questions ( FAQ )


Thank you for taking the time to visit our website to learn more about child support in Massachusetts. My team has compiled a list of FAQs along with answers to help our guests, prospects and clients better understand our child support laws.

We encourage all of our website guests for their own protection to never act on information obtained from any website without first discussing the specifics of your case with a licensed Massachusetts attorney in good standing practicing in the areas of Divorce and Family Law.

Important Note: The general answers we provide in the areas of Family and Divorce Law are for educational purposes and should not be taken as legal advice for any specific situation.

  • Do you have to report income from part time or secondary jobs for purposes of determining your Massachusetts - MA child support financial obligations?
    Answer: When reporting gross income, you have to include income from all sources regardless of whether the income is recognized by the Internal Revenue Code or reported to the IRS, State Department of Revenue, or other taxing authority. If you have a history of earning income from part time or secondary jobs prior to the child support order, you are required to list the income. In certain situations, there are arguments that can be made to exclude part-time or secondary job income for the purpose of determining your child support payment obligation. Back to Top
  • Do you have to report commissions, tips, severance pay, royalties, bonuses, lottery or gambling winnings, investment interest and dividends on the new 2009 Massachusetts child support guidelines worksheet (Calculator)?
    Answer: Yes! When completing the child support guidelines worksheet (Calculator), you must include all sources of income including, but not limited too commissions, tips, severance pay, royalties, bonuses, lottery or gambling winnings, and investment interest and dividends. Back to Top
  • For Self-Employed business owners, does the court in Massachusetts look at gross receipts or net income for purposes of determining your child support obligations?
    Answer: Self employed business owners are allowed to take gross receipts minus ordinary and necessary expenses required to produce income to help determine their gross income for purposes of determining their child support financial obligations. Back to Top
  • How is the Massachusetts Weekly,Monthly, or Yearly child support amount (financial obligation) determined?
    Answer: The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Administrative Office of the Trial Court developed the Massachusetts child support guidelines and worksheet for use by the justices of the Trial Court to help determine what the financial obligation is for each parent in the support of their children. One of the principles in the development of the guidelines is to encourage joint parental responsibility for child support in proportion to, or as a percentage of, income. Back to Top
  • Do you have to count business expense reimbursements towards your income for purposes of calculating your Massachusetts child support payments?
    Answer: Expense reimbursements may be included as income if such payments are significant and reduce personal living expenses. Back to Top
  • Does the new 2009 Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines apply to families with more than 5 children?
    Answer: Yes! If you have more than 5 children, the court order should be at least the amount ordered for 5 children. Back to Top
  • Can you deduct your child care expenses in the new 2009 Massachusetts child support guidelines worksheet?
    Answer: In general, the party that pays for the child care costs is allowed to deduct it from their gross income so long as its reasonable. Back to Top
  • Do you have to report income and distributions from trusts when completing the new 2009 Massachusetts child support guidelines worksheet (Calculator)?
    Answer: Yes! When calculating your gross income, you must include all sources of income including, but not limited too income and distributions from trusts. Back to Top
  • If I get a part time or second job after the child support order, can the custodial parent apply for a Massachusetts child support modification to increase the child support order?
    Answer: The custodial parent can take you to court for a modification of child support. It doesn't mean that they will prevail in court. The new 2009 child support guidelines specifically mentions that secondary job or overtime income should not be considered in a future support order. Back to Top
  • Do you have to report overtime income in the new 2009 Massachusetts child support guidelines worksheet (Calculator)?
    Answer: When reporting gross income, you have to include income from all sources regardless of whether the income is recognized by the Internal Revenue Code or reported to the IRS, State Department of Revenue, or other taxing authority. If you have a history of overtime income prior to the child support order, you are required to list the income. In certain situations, there are arguments that can be made to exclude overtime income for the purpose of determining your child support payment obligation. Back to Top
  • At what age does Massachusetts Child Support terminate or end?
    Answer: Child support continues through age 18 and children over 18 as long as they are still attending high school or until your child turns 21 so long as they are principally dependent on the custodial parent. If your children go to college, child support will continue until they graduate or turn 23, whichever comes first. Back to Top
  • When does child support end, terminate, or stop in Massachusetts?
    Answer: Child support will continue to age 18 and under certain circumstances the court may order payments to continue to age 21 if the child lives with a parent and is principally dependent on them for support. The court has the discretion to extend the child support obligation up to age 23 if the child is enrolled full time in a college, university, or trade school. Back to Top
  • Do I have to pay child support in Ma if i have shared legal or physical custody of my children?
    Answer: Under the new child support guidelines, both parents must share in the responsibility for child support unless their is an economic or medical reason that prevents one of the parents from meeting their obligation. Back to Top
  • Do I have to pay child support immidiately after my wife files for divorce or while our divorce is ongoing in Massachusetts?
    Answer: The court has the discretion to award temporary child support and even custody during the pendency of the divorce actions. Back to Top
  • Can the court deviate from Massachusetts child support guidelines in determining the amount of support to award?
    Answer: The court must apply the child support guidelines unless the court makes specific written findings that the amount of the order based on the guidelines would be unjust, inappropriate, and not in the best interests of the child. Back to Top
  • Can my ex husband or wife go to court to modify or change an existing child support order after a divorce in Massachusetts?
    Answer: If you can show a material and substantial change in circumstance that the existing child support order should be modified, the court has the authority to make the modification if it's in the best interest of the children. Generally speaking, the court likes to see a 20% or more differential with the existing child support obligation for it to be considered a material change in circumstance in modifying the existing order. Back to Top
  • Does child support continue after age 18,19,20, 21,22 or 23 in Massachusetts?
    Answer: The court has the discretion to continue to award child support after age 18 and up to age 23 so long as your child is attending school full time and is principally dependent upon that parent for support. Back to Top
  • Can the court force my employer to deduct child support payments from my paycheck in MA?
    Answer: The child support recipient can request or file with the Department of Revenue (DOR) to collect child support payments from your employer. Back to Top
  • Do I have to pay child support after my son, daughter, or children graduate from high school in MA?
    Answer: The court has the discretion to award child support beyond high school and up to age 23 if your children are attending college, university, or trade school full time and are primarily dependent on that parent's support. Back to Top
  • What is the penalty if I decide to not meet my child support obligations?
    Answer: If you are ordered to pay child support and you fail to do so, the court can hold you in contempt. The court could require you to pay attorney fees of the child support recipient or even lock you up in jail for a certain amount of time should you fail to meet your child support obligation. They even have the authority to enforce support orders by pursuing income withholding and lien, levy, and seizure of real and personal property. Back to Top
  • What is the agency responsible for providing child support enforcement in Massachusetts?
    Answer: The Child Support Enforcement Division of the Depart of Revenue (DOR) is the single state agency mandated under Title IV, Part D, of the Social Security Act to provide child support enforcement services in Massachusetts. Back to Top
  • What are my options to get my husband (or wife) to meet his / her financial child support obligations in a timely manner in Massachusetts?
    Answer: If your husband (or wife) is not meeting their court ordered child support obligations, you should consult with a divorce or family law attorney in Massachusetts to explore your options. Your attorney may advise you to purse a contempt or even get the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR) involved to pursue wage attachments if they are employed by a company doing business in the U.S.. Back to Top
  • If I were to file for divorce in Massachusetts, how soon could I get child support for my son, daughter, or children?
    Answer: If you have children and decide to file for a divorce, your attorney might quickly file a motion for " Temporary Child Support " to ensure that your husband / wife or obligator meets their child support obligations during the course of the divorce process which could take up to a year or more depending on the complexities of the case and how hard its litigated. Back to Top
  • What are my options in Massachusetts to enforce or get my ex-spouse (ex- husband or wife) to meet or pay his / her child suppport obligations?
    Answer: Massachusetts offers a free services from the Department of Revenue (DOR) to enforce a child support order that you may want to pursue. You could also hire a divorce or family law attorney to discuss other options you may want to pursue. Back to Top
  • How is temporary child support calculated or determined in MA?
    Answer: The court will look at a number of factors including each sides financial statement and child support guidelines worksheet along with any oral arguments or data that will help them to determine an appropriate child support order to award. Back to Top
  • What is the importance of the financial statement in setting child support orders in Massachusetts?
    Answer: The financial statement plays an important role in helping the court to determine your child support obligation by way of the mandatory completion of the Massachusetts child support worksheet. Since child support orders are entered based on the accuracy of your financial statement, you are required under law to sign under the pains and penalties of perjury each financial statement you submit to court. Your attorney must make a reasonable inquiry as to the accuracy of the information contained in the financial statement you will be submitting as they too have to certify the financial statement.
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  • Is it necessary in MA to submit a child support guidelines worksheet if my attorney will request a deviation from the guidelines?
    Answer: You must still submit in Massachusetts a child support guidelines worksheet even if you are planning on making a case for why the court should deviate from this guideline in your case. Back to Top
  • Can the court deviate from the temporary child support order in making the final order for child support?
    Answer: The temporary child support order is not cast in stone and can be changed at the final hearing depending on the circumstances of the case. Its even possible to modify the temporary child support order during the course of your divorce if for example your spouse (husband or wife) finds a job (if previously unemployed) or obtains a significant raise that would warrant an increase in the temporary child support order. Back to Top
  • How is child support calculated or determined in Massachusetts?
    Answer: In Massachusetts, the child support guidelines worksheet is used to determine the presumptive amount of child support to be ordered by the court. There are circumstances in which the court may deviate from the guidelines if it is determined that the application of the guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate and not in the child's best interest. If the court deviates, they must enter specific written findings.
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  • What is the formula used to determine child support in Massachusetts?
    Answer: The court will use the Massachusetts child support guidelines worksheet to determine the presumptive amount of child support to be awarded by the court. Back to Top