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How child support is calculated in Massachusetts

When Massachusetts parents are going through a divorce, the court will in most cases determine how much child support should be awarded in one of two ways. The first is to consider an agreement submitted by both parties. If no agreement has been submitted, the court will use the second method, which is to use the state child support guidelines to calculate the amount. Both parties will have an opportunity to rebut the court's child support determination.

For example, if the calculation results in a figure that is inappropriate or unjust to either parent, he or she can offer specific facts that support the argument that the amount is not appropriate. The court may use its discretion to adjust the amount, if it deems the adjusted amount of child support is in the child's best interest. Furthermore, if a parent's circumstances change in a significant way, the court may also modify an existing child support order to reflect the current situation.

When the court uses child support guidelines to calculate the amount of support that the non-custodial parent will pay, it may come up with a figure that does not reflect the needs or wishes of the parents or their children. One way to avoid this outcome is for the parents to agree to child custody and support terms prior to the court date.

A divorce lawyer may help draft such an agreement and submit it to the court for approval. As long as the court deems the agreement is in the child's best interests, it may approve the agreement. A parent whose financial situation changes significantly following the divorce may submit a petition to have the original child support order modified.

Source: The commonwealth of Massachusetts, "CHAPTER 208 DIVORCE", January 07, 2015

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