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Understanding Massachusetts child support laws

Child support can be confusing for those parents who are under court order to pay. While it may seem like punishment, child support is simply a way to meet the needs of one's children when the children live with the other parent. Child support not only provides for the necessities, such as food, shelter, clothing and health care, but it also allows the child to enjoy extracurricular activities and other pleasures.

A Massachusetts parent who is ordered to pay child support will likely continue making payments until the child reaches the age of 18. In some cases, such as if the child goes to college, this may extend longer. If there is a dispute about the paternity for the child, the court will first establish this before calculating a support amount.

Family courts typically arrive at a payment amount using a formula that includes the incomes of both parents, various expenses concerning the child and other relevant factors. The receiving parent may elect to have support payments directly deposited into a bank account. However, Massachusetts also provides a child support debit card into which the paying parent can load monthly amounts.

Missing court-ordered support payments can result in serious consequences, both financially and legally. A parent who is having trouble meeting child support obligations would be wise to obtain legal advice as soon as possible. Likewise, a parent who is struggling because the other parent refuses to comply with court-ordered support payments may benefit from the assistance of a Massachusetts family law attorney.

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