Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines
Child Support Guidelines in Divorce, Separate Support and Paternity Actions
The official child support guidelines in Massachusetts are created by the Chief Justice for Administration and Management of the Massachusetts Trial Court. The applicable goals of the guidelines include:
- The guidelines apply whether parents are married or not.
- The guidelines are intended to minimize the breakup of a family, they encourage joint parental responsibility in relation to a parent’s income, to keep the child near his or her standard of living, to meet the child’s survival needs, to consider the non-monetary contributions by a parent, and allow for orders of wage garnishment.
The Massachusetts guidelines provide for a modified income shares approach. In every case, a minimum of $80 per month is ordered. Over this minimum, there are four income groups recognized – lowest income, low income, middle income and high income. A “high income” earner is someone that earns over $751 per week.
Of course, the income of the custodial parent considers that the custodial parent pays for many of a child’s everyday expenses. The first $20,000 of income for a custodial parent is not applied. After consideration of day care expenses, the support order is to be reduced by the percentage that the excess represents in relation to the combined incomes of both parents minus the custodial parent’s disregarded amount ($20,000).
The guideline for child support depends on not only income levels of both parents, with the limitations discussed when the guidelines do not apply on this page, but the number of children is also important. For one child, the least amount of child support is $80 per month. The most amount of child support will be $167 plus 25% of the non-custodial parent’s gross income. These amounts are increased as more children need to be supported. The age of the children is also important – as a child’s age increases, so does the child support amount.
In some cases, travel expenses incurred by a parent can decrease the amount of child support, if the travel expense is related to the parent’s visitation rights with the child.
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