Massachusetts has enacted new child support guidelines as of August 1, 2013.

Child support is often ordered in custody cases to ensure the child is properly cared for by both parents. The two issues are considered separately, though. Whether you are the person who is supposed to pay support or you are owed the support, it is essential to understand how it works in Massachusetts.

Support Calculations

Child support is typically determined based on a variety of factors that are unique to each set of parents. Some of these factors include:

  • Rate of pay
  • Child care paid
  • Health and dental insurance paid
  • Other prior support obligations
  • Number of children

In most cases, the state will determine the amount of support that must be paid to ensure the child has a reasonable quality of life in both homes. Some support obligations are paid through wage garnishment, while others require the payer to pay the appropriate amount directly to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, or DOR.

Failure to Pay

Once you have a support order, it is your responsibility to make sure it is paid. If a payer fails to make the appropriate payments, action may be taken against him or her. Some of the potential consequences for failure to pay include:

  • 0.5 percent interest and 0.5 percent penalties
  • Lien on real estate or personal property
  • Seizure of financial assets
  • Suspension of business licenses, including commercial driver’s license
  • Interception of tax returns
  • Criminal prosecution

The exact consequences may vary depending on the amount you are behind and various other factors.

Support Modifications

Changes in circumstances can allow you to request for a child support modification, just like many other areas of family law. If you have changed jobs or been fired and have an increase or decrease in income, you may qualify for a support modification. It is always best to talk to a lawyer before filing for a modification to ensure you meet the guidelines for changing the order. Modifications are typically granted when:

  • Income changes
  • Custody changes
  • Availability of health insurance changes

Child support is a necessary aspect when it comes to caring for children after divorce or the separation of the parents. When it is ordered, it is important for both parents to understand the reasons and follow through with the order to protect the best interest of the children involved.