February 10, 2009 – As of January 2009, Massachusetts Probate Court Judges are using an entirely new formula in calculating child support obligations. The “old” guidelines were completely modified. The new changes are not minor. They are dramatic. The new 2009 Child Support Guidelines consider the joint gross income of both parents, the number of children, daycare costs as well as the costs of insurance. The costs of health, dental and even vision care can now affect the support order. These guidelines expand the definition of “income” especially in situations of a self employed “obligor” and address the “gray” area of overtime compensation and the support obligation. Gone is the obligor’s income cap of $ 120,000.00. These new guidelines apply in all cases where the combined gross incomes of the parties does not exceed $ 250,000.00. This should apply to most families and eliminates the discretionary element of an order in most cases. I have had a number of clients indicate that the orders are generally “higher” than the old orders. Its probably a good idea to contact an attorney familiar with probate practice and run the numbers to see if filing a Modification is warranted. There are several criteria to consider. Income is not the only determining factor as to whether a support order can be modified.
I suspect it may take many months to sort thru the effects of the new guidelines. Gray areas will likely cause litigation and appellate judges will clarify.