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Child support payments: Financial preparation crucial

Divorce is already an emotionally difficult process. However, when there are children involved, it can become even more complicated. It is important when dealing with children in a divorce that parents attempt to maintain the child's current lifestyle in order to cause as little disruption as possible. Divorcing parents in Massachusetts may benefit by planning their budgets in anticipation of potential child support payments and other expenses caused by the marital dissolution.

In order to plan for support payments, it makes sense to first calculate how much is currently spent on the children. A judge may compare the income and expenses of each party with state guidelines, which provide a starting template for calculating child support. The judge may then justify any deviation from the guidelines. Some of the reasons for deviation could include travel expenses, medical necessities or extra educational needs for a child.

Parents would also do well to calculate their budgets as single parents. This will provide an idea of how they will need to adjust expenditures in the future. In some cases, a parent's single income will not be adequate to maintain a child's previous lifestyle. If this is the case, a parent will have to decide where to cut expenses and address the issue with the other parent.

If being reduced to a single income and making child support payments becomes too much, it is possible to seek court permission to adjust the payments if the parties are not able to agree among themselves. One reason that parents in Massachusetts may require an adjustment in support payments is a sudden change of income from losing a job, becoming ill or suffering an injury that impairs one's ability to work. In those circumstances, a formal modification petition can be made asking for a modification in an existing child support order based upon proof of a substantial change in circumstances.

Source: Fox Business, "Managing Finances Through a Divorce," Andrea Murad, Sept. 28, 2012

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