Many divorced Massachusetts residents would agree that the process of dissolving a union is emotionally draining and sometimes complicated. However, separating couples who also have minor children together face some unique challenges. In addition to all other facets of divorce, they must also negotiate details around living arrangements, separate parenting time and financial support. Typically, one parent will be required to pay child support to the other so that both parents contribute to maintaining the child’s standard of living.
Some divorcing couples may find a particular challenge when trying to determine each parent’s share of the costs of raising their child. Although each state has its own guidelines around child support calculations, courts can deviate from them, if necessary. Parents going through the divorce process can benefit from knowing some of the considerations concerning child support.
When calculating child support, courts will focus on the child’s need for support, although typically, many factors will be considered: each parent’s income, number of children, who pays for education, health insurance, etc. Even after the court has made its decision, parents have the option to return to court later to modify the arrangement if circumstances change — for example, if one parent loses his or her job or inherits a significant sum of money. In addition, if the parent receiving child support also receives spousal support, child support will always take precedence. Divorcing parents also should know the tax implications regarding child support and custody arrangements. Since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, child support payments are neither taxable income for the recipient nor are they considered a tax exemption for the payor, but some parents may want to explore options for dividing or trading exemptions on their taxes.
While some divorcing parents may find child support a particularly contentious issue, they may find it helpful to keep the focus on the children’s best interests. Massachusetts parents who are ready to begin the divorce process are also wise to consult with an experienced family law attorney. Such a professional can provide valuable legal guidance to those people navigating the complexities of child support, as well as all other aspects of the divorce process.