Going to court over child support can be intimidating, especially for those who are not familiar with the court system. There are Massachusetts child support guidelines that apply to parents all over the state regarding payment amounts, modification and enforcement options; however, the details of how things are handled in family court may vary depending on where one lives. This column will try to address some common concerns parents in the Worcester area may have about going family court for child support cases.
After a parent has been notified of an upcoming child support hearing, he or she may not be sure what to do in order to prepare for the court date. The most important information one can bring to court with him or her is financial information. This information will be used to determine the amount ordered to be paid. Along with information about income, one may be asked about health insurance coverage and any other sources of income — such as disability benefits — so it’s best to be prepared to supply this type of information as well.
While bringing the appropriate documentation is of the utmost importance, so is getting to court on time the day of the hearing. The time of one’s required appearance will be listed on the hearing notice — though it is subject to change depending on the judge’s case load. Before seeing a judge, parents may be given time to discuss terms and reach an agreement — if one has not been made already. If terms are not settled out-of-court, a judge will then proceed with the hearing. In Worcester Family Court, generally, a decision regarding child support will be made that same day, unless there is some reason for the judge to delay the decision.
Thankfully, parents in the Worcester area do not have to go through child support cases alone. In accordance with the Massachusetts child support guidelines, they are entitled to have legal counsel present — which is highly advised. Each party, along side their legal representatives, may work to achieve support orders that are not only in line with the laws of the state, but fit within their current financial situations and supply for the needs of the affected children.
Source: mass.gov, “Frequently Asked Questions Child Support Cases Worcester Probate and Family Court“, Accessed on Sept. 14, 2016