All parents are not only expected to support their children but are legally obligated to do so. If the parents are not living together, then usually one parent will have to make support payments to the parent with whom the children are residing.

In a divorce, separation or where the parents have never been married, there is usually one parent who has primary physical custody of the children and is called the custodial parent. Most of the expenses for the children are borne by the custodial parent and include costs for:

  • Food and clothing
  • Housing
  • Education
  • Health insurance and other medical expenses
  • Child care

Expenses for children are substantial and the non-custodial parent will generally be required to make monthly child support payments to the custodial parent. Often, the parents can work out an amount that is satisfactory to both parents. To be enforceable, however, the support agreement needs to be filed and approved by the court.

How is Child Support Determined?

If you are unable to come to an agreement about support, then you should consider discussing the matter with a child support lawyer who can properly advise you on what is considered reasonable and how you might reach an agreement without court intervention.

Child support is based on a mathematical formula and can be found on the Child Support Guidelines Worksheet that anyone can use. The court will consider the following factors in determining a reasonable amount to be paid:

  • The gross income of the custodial parent
  • The gross income of the non-custodial parent
  • Age of the children
  • Special needs of the children
  • Cost of health insurance
  • Cost of child care

The court can deviate from the guidelines if there are special circumstances. If you are seeking a greater amount than the guidelines suggest, or if you feel the calculated amount is unreasonable, talk to a child support lawyer.

Generally, the non-custodial parent is responsible for including or at least obtaining health insurance coverage for the children through that parent’s own health insurance from work or by paying for a separate policy. The cost of the health insurance can be added to the non-custodial parent’s support payments so long as the cost is reasonable.

Children From Another Relationship

There may be instances where the non-custodial parent has children from another relationship and is paying child support to that other parent. If so, then you may calculate the payments on the Child Support Guidelines Worksheet by subtracting the support you pay from your income. After other expenses are subtracted, the remainder is used to to figure out the support payments for the other children for whom you are not yet paying.

Child Support Modification

You can present a motion to the court for a modification of the original child support order by demonstrating a change in circumstances from the time the order was first issued. However, your request or petition can only be filed 3-years after the original order was issued.

In determining whether a change is appropriate, the court will examine the same factors as listed above to see what changes have been shown. Also, the court will review:

  • A financial statement from the Probate and Family Court with current income and liabilities
  • Pay stubs for the past 6-weeks
  • Previous year’s tax filings
  • Proof of health insurance for the children
  • Statement from the Department of Revenue Child Support Enforcement Division of current payments and any arrears
  • If either party has new expenses because of a new child having been born after the original order was issued
  • If a payor has become disabled

Should there be changes that are significant, then the court will modify the original order upwards or downwards as it deems appropriate and according to the child support guidelines unless unusual circumstances warrant a diversion.

Consult Alimony Lawyer Jason C. Matalas

Child support is often an issue that predominates in a divorce, legal separation or other situation where the parties never married. It is always in your best interest to arrive at a satisfactory and reasonable support arrangement. Discuss this with  alimony lawyer Jason C. Matalas, a Peabody family lawyer, who can advise you on child support matters as well as any other family law issue. Call for a free consultation at (978) 304-2888.