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Massachusetts changes child support guidelines

Child support laws in Massachusetts can be difficult to understand, especially for parents still negotiating their divorce settlement. Child support obligations can impact both parent's finances so it is important for individuals with children to understand how child support is determined and awarded in Massachusetts.

New child support guidelines were recently issued for the state of Massachusetts and the new guidelines went into effect in the beginning of August. The changes came after a review by the Child Support Guidelines Task Force to determine if any changes should be made to current guidelines in the state.

The new child support guidelines will impact parents who pay or receive temporary, permanent or final orders for child support as well as when a parent petitions to modify child support orders.

Several changes were made the existing child support guidelines. Some of the most significant changes were made to the income means test, which will now exclude SSI, SNAP and TAFDC benefits when determining child support obligations.

Another change is that a parent's income from a second job or from overtime can be considered when determining child support, even if the income is new or was earned before the relationship ended.

The new guidelines also provide more information about when child support will continue after a child turns 19. Family courts are supposed to consider the current guidelines but also where the child lives and if they are receiving post-secondary education. In some cases, parents may be required to provide financial assistance for post-secondary education.

There are additional changes to the state's child support guidelines that parents should be aware of. Parents wondering about their child support obligations or how much their child support awards will be should contact a divorce attorney to discuss their specific situation.

Source: The Massachusetts Court System, "Trial Court Issues New Child Support Guidelines Effective August 1st," Joan Kenney and Erika Gully-Santiago, June 20, 2013

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