How Do You Get Child Support?

When matters involve minor children, often Child Support is an issue.

According to the Department of Revenue (DOR) in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, “every child has the legal right to receive financial support from his or her parents, whether the parents are separated, divorced or were never married. Child support keeps many families from needing public assistance. Combined with a parent’s wages, child support can make the family self-sufficient. Child support means different things to different families, but most importantly, child support can mean a better life for your child”. http://www.mass.gov/dor/child-support/your-child-support/. The Official Website of the Department of Revenue (DOR)

Who pays child support?

The noncustodial parent (the parent that has physical custody of the minor child/ren) usually pays the child support to the custodial parent (the parent who does not have physical custody of the minor child/ren). This child support is paid until the minor child is emancipated or reaches the age of majority.

What is the age of majority in Massachusetts, and does this grant immediate emancipation?

Pursuant to M. G.L. c. 4, § 7, cl. Fifty-one. The “age of majority” in Massachusetts is eighteen.

When a person turns eighteen, s/he is considered to have “full legal capacity.” This means that the person can make all legal decisions for him/herself unless there is some reason other than age that legally prohibits him or her from making such decisions, such as mental inability according to M.G.L. c. 231 § 85P.

Despite the fact that the “age of majority” is eighteen, this does not mean that all obligations between parents and children will end on the day a child turns eighteen. In fact, Massachusetts courts have stated that in this state, there is no fixed age when complete emancipation occurs, and that it does not automatically occur when the child turns eighteen. For example, in some cases, parents can be required to support their children beyond the child’s eighteenth birthday. This may occur when the child lives with a parent and is principally dependent upon that parent for support.

What factors do courts look to in determining whether a minor is emancipated?

In the unlikely case where a court will accept and consider a child’s request for emancipated status, the court may evaluate the following factors on a case-by-case basis, although none are conclusive proof of emancipation.

  • Has there been a specific agreement by the parents to give up their rights in exchange for the minor giving up his of her right to support?
  • Is the minor living at home?
  • Is the minor paying room and board if living at home?
  • Does the minor pay rent elsewhere?
  • Do the parents exercise disciplinary control over the minor and to what extent?
  • Is the minor independently employed?
  • Can the minor spend his or her earnings without control of the parents?
  • Is the minor responsible for his or her own bills?
  • Does the minor own a car?
  • Have the parents listed the child as dependent for tax purposes?
  • Has the child graduated from college?

What will I pay in child support? 

In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, child support is calculated using the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines. Under these guidelines, the following principles are given weight by the courts:

  1. to minimize the economic impact on the child’s standard of living;
  2. to encourage joint parental responsibility for child support in proportion to, or as a percentage of, income;
  3. to meet the child’s survival needs in the first instance, but to the extent either parent enjoys a higher standard of living, to entitle the child to enjoy that higher standard;
  4. to protect a subsistence level of income of parents at the low end of the income range whether or not they are on public assistance;
  5. to recognize the nonmonetary contributions and extent of involvement of both parents;
  6. to recognize the monetary and/or inkind contributions of both parents in addition to the child support order;
  7. to promote consistency in the setting of child support orders at all income levels whenever appropriate;
  8. to recognize the importance, availability, and cost of health insurance coverage for the child;
  9. to allow for orders and wage assignments that can be adjusted as income increases or decreases; and
  10. to minimize problems of proof for the parties and to streamline administration for the courts.

What is the definition of income or what will the court consider to be income used to determine what the child support will be? 

According to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Administrative Office of the Trial Court’s Child Support Guidelines income is defined as gross income from whatever source regardless of whether that income is recognized by the Internal Revenue Code or reported to the Internal Revenue Service or state Department of Revenue or other taxing authority.

Those sources include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. (a) salaries, wages, overtime and tips, (b) income from self-employment;
  2. commissions;
  3. severance pay;
  4. royalties;
  5. bonuses;
  6. interest and dividends;
  7. income derived from businesses/partnerships;
  8. social security excluding any benefit due to a child’s own disability 1  ;
  9. veterans’ benefits;
  10. military pay, allowances and allotments;
  11. insurance benefits, including those received for disability and personal injury, but excluding reimbursements for property losses;
  12. workers’ compensation;
  13. unemployment compensation;
  14. pensions;
  15. annuities;
  16. distributions and income from trusts;
  17. capital gains in real and personal property transactions to the extent that they represent a regular source of income;
  18. spousal support received from a person not a party to this order;
  19. contractual agreements;
  20. perquisites or inkind compensation to the extent that they represent a regular source of income;
  21. unearned income of children, in the Court’s discretion;
  22. income from life insurance or endowment contracts;
  23. income from interest in an estate, either directly or through a trust;
  24. lottery or gambling winnings received either in a lump sum or in the form of an annuity;
  25. prizes or awards;
  26. net rental income;
  27. funds received from earned income credit; and
  28. any other form of income or compensation not specifically itemized above.

So hopefully if you’ve been wondering How Do You Get Child Support you now have a much better idea!

Attorney James J. Hoffey is well experienced in Child Support and can assure you will get the best outcome possible outcome in your situation. Contact Hoffey Law Office in Brookfield, Massachusetts at (508) 867-2649 or jhoffey@hoffey.com for a
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