Child Support Lawyers for Natick, Wellesley, Framingham, Needham, the Surrounding Communities, and the Greater Boston Area

Mother holding daughter.

As experienced family lawyers, we are here to support and guide our clients through every step of the divorce, child custody, and child support process so our clients’ can focus on their families, and not on their divorce or child-related matter.

What Is Child Support?

Child support is a payment from one parent to the other parent to pay for the expenses of raising a child.  Child support typically consists of fixed, regular payments.

In addition to child support, parents may also be ordered to share other reasonable child-related expenses, such as extracurricular activities, lessons, tutoring, as well as other expenses.

How Is Child Support Calculated in Massachusetts?

Child support payments are calculated using the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines, which are updated every four years.  A link to the 2021 Child Support Guidelines Worksheet is below:

The Child Support Guidelines provide for a presumptive child support order.  However, there are several factors that can be taken into consideration in deviating from the child support amount calculated using the formula set out in the worksheet.

Child Support FAQs

Under the 2021 Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines, a maximum combined gross income for both parents of $400,000 is applied, meaning if both parents’ combined gross incomes exceed $400,000 per year, the court will use only the first $400,000 of their incomes to calculate child support.  However, a judge has the discretion to deviate from this cap in certain circumstances and award additional child support on income earned that is in excess of that income cap per year.

Child support is usually paid until a child’s emancipation.  In Massachusetts, emancipation is defined in accordance with M.G.L. Chapter 208, Section 28 which provides that a child emancipates on the latest to occur of the following:

  • When he/she turns 18 or graduates from high school, unless he/she is residing with and principally dependent on a parent, then emancipation will occur between the ages of 21 and 23;
  • When she/he turns 21, unless he/she is enrolled in an educational undergraduate program, then emancipation will occur upon the earlier of a child’s graduation from such program or upon turning age 23.
  • When she/he turns age 23.
  • When he/she enters full-time military service, marries, or dies. 

When a valid Massachusetts judgment provides support payments, the court will retain the power to modify the order.  A support order may be modified if there is a substantial and material change in circumstances (for example, if one parent’s income increases, or decreases, significantly, or if there is a change in the custody arrangement of the child or children subject to the judgment or order).

If a divorce judgment or order was entered outside of the state, you will want to consult with an attorney to confirm whether a Massachusetts court will have jurisdiction (i.e., the “power”) to modify that order or judgment.

A parent can file a complaint for contempt with the court to enforce an order or judgment requiring the other parent to pay child support.  As part of the complaint, the non-breaching party (the parent seeking to enforce the order or judgment for child support) can request that in addition to paying the child support arrearages, that the breaching party (the parent required to pay child support) also pay interest, plus the reasonable attorney’s fees and costs incurred by the parent who had to file the complaint to get him/her to comply with the order or judgment of the Court.