When a Massachusetts couple divorces and one spouse will be responsible for paying child support, he or she may have many questions about it. The truth is that most questions have multiple answers -- depending on the circumstances. Many of the questions may be answered by referring to the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines, but the dynamics of each family are unique, and a family law attorney may be helpful.
One question involves the time when child support will end. In most cases it continues until a child's 18th birthday, but what if the child needs further support while studying at a college? Does the responsibility end if the child becomes employed and earns a salary before he or she turns 18? Also, how will the total amount change when one of several siblings turns 18?
Child support payments go to the custodial parent, but in cases in which a noncustodial parent does not trust the other parent to use the money for what it is intended, he or she may question why the child support cannot be paid into a trust for the child. Parents may also wonder what will happen when their circumstances change, and they are no longer able to pay the court-ordered amount of child support. Can this mean jail time, and do unpaid amounts fall away upon the child's emancipation?
All these questions are covered in the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines, but it is also true that exceptions exist for almost every scenario. For this reason, many parents who are considering divorce consult with an experienced divorce attorney who can assess the unique circumstances of the client and his or her family before answering the questions and explaining the conditions under which exceptions exist. Being fully informed before the divorce is finalized may enable parents to make decisions that will be in the best interests of the children.
Source: FindLaw, "5 Biggest Child Support Questions", Christopher Coble, Oct. 5, 2016