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Big changes in Massachusetts child support guidelines

On Behalf of | May 10, 2018 | Child Support

Determining child support can be huge challenge in divorce.  With the recent change in child support guidelines in Massachusetts last year, the process can seem even more daunting.  The goal of the changes was to make the calculation of child support simpler and more equitable, but how will those changes affect your wallet?

If you’re in the process of determining child support in Massachusetts, the recent changes will have a big impact on that calculation.   If you’re already paying child support, these changes might drastically change the amount that you pay.  Here’s an overview of the biggest changes:

Limit on college contributions

The Massachusetts task force responsible for drafting the guidelines came up with a standard for determining college contributions for divorced parents. Rather than looking at the college the child plans to attend, the guidelines have created a presumptive cap based on the cost to attend the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. According to the guidelines, the court will not require a parent to pay more than 50 percent of that cost.

While this is the set maximum that a parent would be required to pay, it is worth noting that this is still not a presumed cost. Whether a parent must pay for college will be up to the judge.

Change in support for adult children

In Massachusetts, child support does not stop when the child turns 18. Child support definitively stops when the adult child turns 23.  However, between the ages of 18 to 23, there is some gray area.  The recent guidelines changes now require a decrease by a blanket 25 percent when the child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever comes later.  Whether that support continues past age 18 will be up to the probate & family court judge to decide.

Changes for imputing “unreported” income

Parents with income that does not show up on a tax return will also be affected by the guideline changes.  Previously, the courts simply looked to tax returns to determine income.  With the recent changes, courts will look at things like housing benefits that would reduce a parent’s regular expenses and allow them to contribute in other areas.

Does this sound familiar?

If these changes might apply to your situation, consider contacting a Massachusetts divorce and family lawyer, like the experienced attorneys at Richard C. Bardi & Associates LLC, to discuss your options.


This post is for general informational purposes and is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice.  Consult a Massachusetts attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail; however, contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.