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Modification of child support in light of increased au pair costs

Child support payments are often determined by a variety of factors, including the income of the payor parent and the cost of raising a child. But, what happens when the cost of care increases dramatically due to changes in laws or inflation? Modification of child support on the basis of increased child care costs may be an important topic for Massachusetts parents impacted by the new laws around au-pair visas.

Recently, a federal appeals court handed down a ruling that classified live-in au pairs as domestic workers. Au pairs are live-in child care providers that come to the United States on a temporary J-1 exchange visa. Prior to the ruling, families were required to pay a stipend of at least $195.75 per week for up to 45 hours caring for children. While the visa will continue to be available, the current classification of au pairs as domestic workers means that parents must pay minimum hourly wage to their live-in help.

In Massachusetts, this minimum wage is $12.75. For a 45 hour workweek, this adds up to $500 per week. This is bit more than a 150% increase in costs for parents who were previously paying the au-pair minimum. Parents will also be required to contribute $500 per year to the au pair’s education, and to continue providing room and board.

For individuals paying or receiving child support, this change in expenses can become a legal matter. In some cases, a modification of the amount provided to the parent with custody may be requested to cover the difference in cost. Considering other options that may now be less expensive than an au pair, such as day care, may also be discussed between parents. Those who are seeking support in revisiting child support amounts in light of this or other changes should contact a Massachusetts lawyer for support.


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