The basics of child support modification in MA

Parents may come across a situation where they need to have their child support modified in order to reflect a change in life.

When parents file for divorce in Massachusetts, the non-custodial parent is often ordered to pay child support. These funds are calculated according to each parents' gross income, and help to limit the financial changes that take place when families become separated. Once the final child support calculation has been determined, ordered by the court and entered into the divorce settlement, it cannot be changed. However, certain life circumstances may arise, leaving it difficult or even impossible for a parent to make his or her court-ordered child support payments. In some cases, parents may be eligible for child support modification depending on the details surrounding their case.

Essentially, a child support order is a request to revisit the factors that were considered when calculating the initial child support payment. According to the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines, the judge will look at the child's age, how much time the child spends with each parent and other details when considering whether a parent is eligible for modification:

Reasons to modify child support

People might seek to modify their child support order for several reasons, according to the Massachusetts Court System. If any of the factors that were considered when calculating the child support have changed, it may constitute a change in the child support amount. For example, if the parenting schedule changes to where the non-custodial parent has the children more often, he or she could have their child support payment decreased. If the parent paying child support loses his or her job, is demoted or has a substantial wage increase, a modification may be in order as well.

In addition, the following life changes may qualify a person for a child support modification:

  • Change in child's need for insurance coverage, medical treatment or daycare.
  • Change in health care coverage, insurance premiums or deductibles.
  • Variances between the court-ordered payments and the payments required according to the Child Support Guidelines.

What to do

In a case where only one parent wants to have the child support modified, that parent must fill out and file a Complaint for Modification form, as well as a Financial Statement and Child Support Guidelines Worksheet. The other parent is served with the modification request and a court date or conference date is scheduled.

Parents who agree on a modification, however, are able to submit the required forms together as a packet. Within 30 days the court will notify the parents of its decision.

Getting an attorney involved

If you are experiencing a situation where you need a modification of your child support order, you may want to contact an attorney in Massachusetts. A lawyer may be helpful in answering your questions and pointing you in the right direction when it comes to exploring your legal options.