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Streamlining the Child Support Modification Process in Massachusetts

Child Support letters with gavel and cash

In May 2013, the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court expanded Standing Order 3-11, which streamlines the child support modification process in Massachusetts. Through this Standing Order, parents can now complete more user-friendly forms to file for a child support modification with the Probate and Family Court, and also obtain a faster court date to obtain some relief.

This project was originally initiated in 2011 in Bristol County through a federal grant. The project used Bristol County as a test county for the streamlined process. The Probate and Family Court worked together with the Department of Revenue, Child Support Enforcement Division to test this program.

As part of the pilot project, the Probate and Family Court and DOR developed a one-page form that contained the Complaint for Modification as well as the Motion for Temporary Orders. This form is more user-friendly than the standard court forms. In addition to the more user-friendly forms, litigants are allowed to complete service of the summons and complaint by first class mail, rather than service by a sheriff … Read More »

New Child Support Guidelines in Massachusetts

On June 20, 2013, the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court released new Child Support Guidelines that become effective August 1, 2013. The new Child Support Guidelines revise the Guidelines issued in 2009, and modify several provisions from the 2009 Guidelines. Below is a summary of the changes to the new Child Support Guidelines.

Sources of Income

In the new Guidelines, the Probate and Family Court specifically excludes any income derived from means-tested public assistance programs, like TAFDC, SNAP, and SSI, from computation of child support obligations. Additionally, the Guidelines now explicitly state that the Court may consider none, some, or all overtime income even if overtime was earned prior to entry of a child support order. However, in all cases, where parents’ combined available income is over $250,000, the Guidelines should be applied on the first $250,000 in the same proportion as the Recipient’s and Payor’s actual income as provided on line 1h of the child support guidelines worksheet.

Attribution of Income

In the previous Guidelines, the Court had the authority to attribute income to a parent. Now the Court has clarified … Read More »

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