Methuen Child Support Attorneys
Ensuring that Your Children Receive Adequate Support
The law requires that biological parents provide financial support to their children. That responsibility usually lasts until the child reaches the age of majority, 18 or 21 depending on the circumstances, or becomes self-reliant. The parent who does not have primary custody of the child is usually obligated to pay support to the custodial parent.
When it comes to complex matters such as child support, it is not uncommon for parents to get in arguments and fight over who will pay and how much will be paid. At DiBella Law Offices, P.C., our goal is to help you focus on what is important - your children. Contact us today to learn more.
Child Support Guidelines
During the interim period, or pendency of the divorce action, the court may make a temporary order for payment of child support. In addition, they may include provisions relating to either party’s responsibility to provide coverage for health insurance. Once the judgement for divorce is finalized, the court will determine which parent will assume child custody, or may consider a third party for custody if determined to be in the best interest of the children. In making a determination regarding the amount of a child support order, the court will use the support guidelines outlined by the chief trial court justice; however, if this amount is found to not be appropriate based on the circumstances, the court may order an adjustment to the support amount with a written explanation. An order for the responsibility of providing health care coverage for the children and/or spouse may also be implemented. Those with children over 18, but are residing with and dependent on a parent, may be ordered to provide maintenance and educational support until the child is 23 years of age. Educational assistance requirements will cease upon attainment of an undergraduate degree.
How to Get Child Support
The state has a Child Support Enforcement Division, which is within the MA Department of Revenue (DOR). For children born to unmarried parents, the first step is to establish or acknowledge paternity. When a child is born in a hospital, the facility provides information to the mother regarding the responsibilities of parentage, services relating to establishing paternity, and an application outlining child support. They will provide an opportunity for the parent(s) to acknowledge parentage. If paternity has not been acknowledged or determined, the following information should be provided by the parent:
- A form declaring that intercourse occurred with the noncustodial parent (NCP) amid the likely timeframe of conception.
- Contact information for confirming the identity or whereabouts of the NCP from third parties.
- Relevant information on the NCP from courts, social service agencies, law enforcement etc.
- Any written documentation relevant to the NCP such as bills, tickets, or receipts.
A court order may be necessary for the mother, child, and putative father to have genetic tests administered to determine paternity.
Calculating Child Support: Percentages of Gross or Net Income
The amount of child support can be calculated according to the Child Support Guideline Worksheet and Chart which is summarized as follows:
- Gross Weekly Income for both parents minus costs of child care, health insurance, and other support obligations.
- The available income is totaled and percentages of the total combined income are assigned to each party.
- Combined available income is adjusted by number of children and proportional amounts calculated according to an obligation schedule.
- Those with high income may pay a progressively higher amount per court discretion.
Late Child Support Payments
Courts have means of securing and enforcing payments of support. The court entering the order for support retains the right to intervene if payment schedules are not adhered to. The court may contact the "trustee", or employer of the individual, to assess available income and create an order for the trustee to transmit a determined amount to a court agency each pay period. The employer may not take unfavorable actions toward the employee as a result of such arrangements. If there are past-due payments, the amounts transmitted in the beginning of the process may be increased until the arrearages are satisfied. If an individual obligated to pay support is not cooperating, the court has a variety of tools for enforcement. Some of the collection measures include levies against bank accounts, interception of tax refunds, credit bureau reporting, assessments of fines, placing liens on property, suspending a driver’s license, and a host of other means as necessary.
Inability to Pay Child Support Payments
Either parent may ask the court to reevaluate support orders in the event of changes in income, health insurance access, or other circumstances. The court may institute post-decree modifications to the support order accordingly. All parents are required to provide for the financial needs of their children, and those who are insolvent are still accountable for a minimum of $80 per month.
Understanding Child Support in Massachusetts
At DiBella Law Offices, P.C., we represent parents obligated to pay child support as well as those entitled to receive it. Led by an experienced Methuen family lawyer with more than a decade of experience, we believe strongly that parents have a duty to support their children. When they do not, we can pursue child support enforcement proceedings as appropriate.
If you would like to discuss matters of child support with our lawyer, we have three office locations - Burlington, Methuen, and Boston.
The paying parent will be required to make regularly ordered payments. Failure to make court-ordered child support payments exposes the noncustodial parent to significant penalties. Child support may be entered during or after a divorce. Either parent may be ordered to pay support depending on how custody is arranged. The amount of child support is determined after the needs of the child and the parent’s income are assessed through the use of state-specific guidelines.
Questions about Child Support Guidelines? We Can Help!
We look forward to meeting with you for a free consultation to discuss matters of child support. Call us at (978) 327-5140 today to make an appointment.