There are new child support guidelines that have been in effect in Massachusetts since September 15 of 2017 These changes are not retroactive, and so if you already have an order in place, you don’t need to worry. But if a child support order will be a part of your divorce after September 15, these changes in the law will apply to you.
- Reduced support for adult children.For adult children between the ages of 18 and 23, the new law allows for a reduction of up to 25 percent of the child support order. Furthermore, the new law caps support for adult children at 75 percent of a standard child support order. Judges can, however, still use their discretion when deciding about appropriate amounts of child support for adult children.
- Cap on college tuition. Under the new law, each parent will be required to pay no more than 50 percent of the cost to attend University of Massachusetts Amherst, including tuition, room and board and any associated fees.
- Eliminating the 33 percent to 50 percent category. In an effort to reduce litigation over parenting time and child support obligations, the new law has eliminated the category of 33 to 50 percent parenting time, which previously would have allowed parents to deviate from standard child support payments.
- Capped health and child care costs. The new law allows health and child care deductions to make up only 15 percent of the totally child support order.
- Clarifying non-taxed income. For the purposes of identifying income that could be subject to a child support order, the new Massachusetts law allows the courts to “impute” income based on evidence that there is self-employment income or business-related income in play that has not been reported as taxable. The new law also allows courts to apply “attributed” income in circumstances where a parent who is found to be capable of working is either underemployed or unemployed.
- Considering tax consequences. The new law allows courts to take into consideration the tax consequences of support orders when balancing the various types of support ordered for any individual case: child support, alimony or unallocated support.
- Raising the minimum child support from $18.46 to $25.
If you have questions about how child support payments will work in your particular situation, contact an experienced family law attorney to discuss your concerns.