Daily life has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. For parents, there are many questions of how to support and care for children with Massachusetts schools closures. Divorced and separated parents can face even more questions in this situation, from modification of child support due to a layoff through to social distancing implications of shared custody. Here are some recommendations that experts have made so far.
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.
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.
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.