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Christmas plans lead to child support dispute

Making decisions that both parties agree on is a difficult thing for many Massachusetts couples. Making these decisions about matters concerning children after a separation or divorce is often even harder. Child support is one of those frequently contentious issues and some parents attempt to use the payment or non-payment of child support as a weapon to their ex-spouse, instead of as a way to provide for the needs of their children.

Charlie Sheen has a current arrangement with his ex-wife, Denise Richards, to pay $55,000 per month in child support. However, he is now planning to go to court over the child support, claiming that the current agreement was never signed off on by a judge. He plans to demand a reduction in his child support obligations, as well as a formalized child custody agreement that guarantees him the right to see his two children on holidays. He claims this current child support dispute results from Richards' refusing to allow their sons to see him on Christmas.

Child support agreements in Massachusetts are intended to protect the children and prevent them from suffering economic effects stemming from the divorce of their parents. Another goal of child support is to encourage both parents to continue being involved in their children's lives, providing for their needs and making critical decisions. Raising a child is expensive and many parents cannot do it on a single income. Child support can help bridge the gap and is generally based on the income of the parent who does not have primary custody.

It is possible to modify a child support determination after it has been established, but it often requires a change in one of the parents' circumstances. One parent cannot typically argue for a reduction or an increase simply because he or she is mad at the other parent. If a modification is needed for financial reasons, job loss, or other factors, it is important to clearly present a strong case establishing how the modification will best provide for the children and not unduly burden either parent.

Source: Huffington Post, "Charlie Sheen Threatens To Slash Denise Richards' Child Support Over Christmas Plans," April Sperry, Dec. 17, 2013

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