Child Support Lawyers Assisting Clients in Westborough, MA with Child Support Issues
Child Support is the money that is ordered by courts to be paid by the parent who the children aren’t living with full time. The parent responsible for taking care of the children receives the payments rather than the children themselves. It is used to pay for many things, but some of the most common are housing, child care, health insurance or medical costs, food, and education costs. Child Support can be ordered to be paid to either the mother or the father–whoever is the “custodial parent” (the parent the children reside with.) These payments are typically ordered to be paid monthly; however, a judge can determine that they be paid weekly. If both parents have equal time with the children, the judge typically orders the parent with the higher income to pay child support.
This can seem like a complex issue with the rules and regulations set in place. Having a trusted attorney to guide you through the process can not only ease the stress on you and your family but make sure that it is done correctly, potentially saving you time and money moving forward. Call the Westborough offices of O’Connor Family Law at 774-214-2137 to find out more regarding your specific questions about child support.
How Is Child Support Calculated?
Like most states, Massachusetts uses a formula to determine how much money each parent should be contributing to their children. Infants or younger children can typically have more expenses involved, as well as children with additional medical needs. Deviations can be made to this formula in some circumstances, but it is typically calculated using the Child Support Guidelines Worksheet. These are updated as legislation changes, but currently, it is a 4-page document that guides you through the process. Gross weekly income for both parents is factored in, including self-employment, SSI or SSDI income, and tips or other income. Weekly expenses such as costs of child care, health insurance, or support payments for other children are then subtracted from this total for each parent.
How Is Child Support Paid?
There are a couple of available options for making child support payments. In some cases, child support will be ordered to be withheld from the payor’s paychecks. It is then sent to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, which forwards it to the receiving parent. If there isn’t an order to pay by income withholding, direct payments to the DOR are required so that they can disperse to the receiving parent. Child support payments are not deductible to the payor and are also not taxable to the recipient for both federal and state income tax purposes.
What if I Need to Make Changes to Child Support?
Child Support Modifications can be requested every three years, and in some cases, sooner if there is a major change in your situation that results in your inability to pay (ex: injury or loss of job.) To request a modification, you will need to prove how your situation has changed. Changes can be things like your current payment no longer meeting the current guidelines that are in force, that you have changed the amount of time that the children are spending with one of the parents shifting the costs involved for that parent, or if you’ve lost or can no longer afford health insurance for the children.
Keeping track of your (and your children’s) expenses as well as payments is very helpful in this matter, should you need to file a request for modification in the future. Whether you are paying or receiving support, there are several ways to track these payments, such as through apps or keeping detailed journals/spreadsheets. Tracking items as they happen rather than from memory, so they are thorough is a great habit to be in should you need to prove that modifications need to happen in the future.
What Happens if I’m Not Receiving the Child Support That I was Awarded?
A child support order is legally binding and must be treated as the serious order that it is. The Department of Revenue is responsible for tracking payments and assessing penalties or interest when payments are missed, taking actions like suspending the delinquent payor’s driver’s license or placing a lien on their bank account. A trusted attorney at O’Connor Family Law can help you to understand your right to obtain child support payments and how to proceed in bringing your payments current.
When Does Child Support End?
In general, child support will continue until the child reaches the age of 18, but there are other factors to consider. If the children begin living with the parent who is paying the child support, or if they move out of the parent’s home that is receiving child support, the obligation ends. Also, if the child in question is no longer financially dependent on either parent, the obligation ends. There are certain instances where the court may order payments to continue until the age of 21 or even age 23 if the child is enrolled full-time in a college, university, or the like. One more aspect to consider is if the child is over the age of 23 but is dependent on either parent due to physical or mental conditions, exceptions may be made.
The issues surrounding child support can be confusing, and as a trusted team with years of experience dealing with these cases before, we have the resources to help you.
O’Connor Family Law has a team ready to assist you; contact them by calling 774-214-2137 to discuss the details specific to your case and to get started.