Massachusetts parents understand that it costs quite a lot to raise a child. There are the basic necessities of life, such as food, shelter and clothing, but there are also the so-called extras to consider: school supplies, medical care, extracurricular activities and even entertainment costs. Contrary to popular belief, child support is supposed to help in covering all of these costs and not just the basics.
When children are involved in a divorce, paternity or other custody matter, the amount and payment of child support to the custodial parent must almost always be addressed by the Court. However, though an agreement may be made, sometimes payment obligations are not met. Unemployment, injury or sickness can play a major factor in one's finances, and may be valid reasons affecting one's ability to make child support payments and comply with the Court ordered obligations. On the other hand, there are some cases when the noncustodial parent simply is negligent or avoids making payments. If needed, enforcement of a Massachusetts court-ordered child support obligation may involve filing an enforcement action such as a Complaint for Contempt and perhaps attempts to garnish the non-paying parent's wages.
As a family unit changes due to a divorce, child support may be considered if children are involved. In certain situations, meeting the financial demands of child support could be difficult. Unemployment, illness or injury can play a factor in missing payments. In other cases, a non-custodial parent may simply neglect the responsibility of financial support. If needed, garnishing the paying parent's wages can be a means of enforcement of a Massachusetts court-ordered child support arrangement.
No matter how carefully Massachusetts residents try to prepare, sometimes unexpected life events can negatively affect the best-laid plans. Changes such as sudden injury or illness or job loss may, in turn, alter a family's income, which may then affect child support. In such cases, child support modification may be possible, but there are certain steps that must be followed, whether an individual is hoping to receive larger child support payments or lower the payments he or she is required to make.
Across the nation, August is Child Support Awareness month. This national initiative was started to help inform divorced parents in Massachusetts and across the nation of the importance of child support and the ways it benefits children. The program hopes to educate parents on issues from modification to enforcement to available resources and more, hopefully for the good of everyone.
Child support is important; it helps custodial parents in Massachusetts and elsewhere pay for the food, medical care and other necessities all children need. What happens, though, when a father is struggling economically and cannot make the court-ordered payments in the full amount? Instead of these fathers losing access to their children and the children losing the positive influence their male parent provides, many advocates are pushing for a modification of the child support system.
Most Massachusetts parents want what is best for their children. Studies have demonstrated that the more opportunities and resources children have access to, the better they do. However, it takes money to be able to afford those resources, and this is where things can get complicated for single parents with limited income. This, then, is why child support enforcement can be so important.
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.
Divorce is a complex process, but life goes on, and for many people, life continues to change after the process is final. When financial circumstances change, parents may find that they are unable to effectively provide for their kids or meet the obligations outlined in their child support order. When this occurs, it is important to seek a legal modification of the support order and to refrain from verbal agreements with the other parent.
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.