Massachusetts has released Child Support Guidelines that will go into effect on October 4th 2021. There are several important changes that will affect many families throughout the Commonwealth.
You can calculate your child support based on the new guidelines by using the Court’s interactive Child Support Worksheet. Child Support Guidelines are published by the Court and can be found online here: Child Support Guidelines. They explain the rationale behind all of the calculations, and will answer frequently asked questions.
If you’d prefer to get the Cliff’s Notes version of the 26-page Guidelines, we’ve highlighted some of the important changes from the previous year and how they might affect you and your child support orders.
For parents whose combined income was $250,000 or more, the 2018 Child Support Guidelines Worksheet left them to calculate the appropriate child support owed for income over $250,000. The 2021 Worksheet calculates combined income up to $400,000. This brings more clarity to parents in determining child support.
Families with More Than One Child
The new guidelines offer big changes for families with more than one child, by increasing support for additional children. The 2018 guidelines have increases per each additional child at 25% for the second child, 10% for the third, 5% for the fourth, and 2% for the fifth child. The 2021 guidelines increase support by 40% for the second child, 30% for the third, 10% for the fourth, and 5% per additional child.
Alimony and Child Support Interactions
The 2021 Child Support Guidelines codify the Appeals Court’s decision in Calvin C. v. Amelia A., 99 Mass. App. Ct. 714, 721 (2021), which set precedent for when alimony may be treated as income in certain cases. This still remains a complex issue, however, and the Commentary to the Guidelines states, “The Task Force strongly urges the Court and parties to proactively run different support scenarios to determine what support order is appropriate for the family – specifically whether determining alimony first and then child support provides the appropriate support.”
The new guidelines increase the amount of childcare costs that can affect the calculation of child support. The 2018 Guidelines capped the amount of childcare costs at 15% of household income. The 2021 Guidelines cap the amount at $355 per week, per child. For parents with several children in childcare, this has the potential to produce a big change in their child support orders — particularly parents of modest incomes.
The new worksheet is 4 pages long, which makes an already complex calculation even more complex and daunting. The new worksheet is now available and takes effect October 4, 2021. Child Support Worksheet
If you think these changes could affect you, schedule a consultation to evaluate whether it makes sense to modify your current child support.
Set up a Consultation.
Keep on top of how these guidelines could affect your current child support orders.