Massachusetts Legal Blog

Important Changes in Massachusetts Child Support Laws– Do You Know What They Are?

When it comes to child custody and visitation, there are important laws and guidelines that are critical and need to be considered. Here are some of the changes that you can expect in this area in 2014, so that you can plan your next legal steps accordingly.

Second Job or Overtime?

One of the things that were safe from child support was a second job or overtime.  In recent law changes, this has completely been re-arranged; no source of income is safe anymore.  Regardless of how many hours the parent works, it will all be taken into account when child support is considered.
If this parent establishes the income after the relationship has ended; this has no effect on whether the child support is applied to the receiving party.  All of the money, whether before or after the relationship ended, overtime or second job is eligible for child support with the new law changes.

Does Child Support End at Age 19?

The new and updated law states that when a child turns 19 years old, the child support payments do no stop if the child considers a post-secondary education.  There are considerations when concerning the payments. These include but are not limited to: where the child is living and where they are receiving post-secondary education.  There are multiple collegiate financial situations in which financial assistance will have to be applied directly towards the education.

Sole & Joint Custody in Divorce Situations

In these specific situations; when there is a divorce, the most common action is to award both parents joint custody of the children; especially if there is no proof that either parent is guilty of wrong-doing.  Also, the child’s happiness is also a determining factor as well.  If a child is much happier with one parent than the other – as far as emotionally, mentally, and physical well-being, that person will be given sole custody of the child.

What Situations is Joint Custody Awarded?

If both parents come to terms and actually agree on a joint custody, the court will award both parents on the joint custody. This has to be done in a way that is clearly communicated and has the goal of the child’s best interest at hand; if not, then the court will rule towards the child’s favor.

When Does a Parent Win Sole Custody?

In a situation when a parent wins sole custody of the child, there are usually a number of determining factors.  First, there must be a personal relationship with the child.  If the parent simply tries to win sole custody and never speaks with or only occasionally spends time with the child, the court will observe that, and will not award that parent with sole custody in most cases.
If the past 6 months of responsibility has been placed on one parent, and if that child has been living with that parent, then that respective parent has the best chance of winning sole custody.
There are a ton of changes in the new law.  This article is not sufficient for every course of action. It is always best to follow the consultation of an experienced divorce attorney so that you can take the correct legal action.

By Anna Shapiro, Esq.