The new Child Support Guidelines are here and are effective as of October 4, 2021, for all child support orders. They recognize the hardship of child care and medical insurance costs and the overall increase in cost of living. The Guidelines may be found at https://www.mass.gov/info-details/child-support-guidelines.
Some, but certainly not all, of the significant changes are the following:
- The maximum level of combined parental income used to calculate the presumptive child support order was raised from $250,000 to $400,000 per year, while the Court’s discretion was left intact to order additional child support for income exceeding the $400,000 level.
- Child care costs are to be apportioned between the parents in proportion to their income, up to a benchmark of $355 per child per week, although the Court may deviate from this formula.
- How the payment of health, dental and vision insurance coverage effects the calculation of support was also revised.
- The term “out of pocket” medical expenses was defined as those where the children are covered by insurance but the expense is not covered and “uninsured medical expenses” as those not covered because the children are uninsured.
- The formula and factors for orders as to support of children between ages 18 and 23 were changed.
- The Guidelines were clarified to reflect that the Court has discretion to, but need not, order payment of college expenses but that where it orders both, the Court must consider the impact of the combined amount of both orders.
- Clarifying language was added as to how the different forms of Social Security payments should be treated when calculating child support.
- Changes also differentiated between the treatment of military allotments and allowances when calculating support.
- Changes were made to clarify how child support should be calculated when there are orders of child support and alimony where one party pays both or where one party pays alimony and the other child support – following up on a recent Appellate Court decision.
- Child care costs that cause hardship was established as a possible grounds for deviation from the Guidelines and a presumption was established that there should be deviation where the overall order is more than 40% of the payor’s available income.
Please feel free to call to discuss these changes in more detail.