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How is child support determined?

As couples with children go through the process of separating, many have questions regarding the amount of child support that they will either receive or have to pay. Although determining child support is based on many concrete factors, such as the number of children, the amount of support can vary.

Child support in Massachusetts is guided by the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines. These guidelines are issued in a way to best address both the needs of the child and the parties' ability to pay. Some of the factors taken into account are the individual requirements of each child and each parent's income.

It is possible for a Massachusetts court to deviate from these general guidelines, but significant reasons must exist in order for them to do so. For example, if a non-custodial parent has a recent job loss before the determination, a court may decide to decrease the amount of child support. Similarly, if it is discovered that the non-custodial parent has come into a lot of money, the court may decide to increase the amount of child support.

Once the amount of support is established in a support order, it can be modified at a later date. Either parent can bring a motion to modify custody or support, which is a petition to the Court to change a pervious order. In order to modify custody or support, there must be a significant change in circumstances.

Child support can be a difficult subject to navigate when parents disagree on an appropriate amount. Parents beginning the process, hoping to enforce an existing order or wishing to modify custody or support should probably get more information in order to get headed in the right direction.

Source: , "Child Support Basics" Accessed Sept. 9, 2014

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