CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES AMENDED
an extensive review and analysis of the Trial Court’s Child
Support Guidelines in 2001, Chief Justice for Administration
and Management Barbara A. Dortch-Okara today announced that
amendments have been made to the Child Support Guidelines. The new Guidelines will become effective on
February 15, 2002. The
Child Support Guidelines and an Executive Summary are available
on the court’s web site at www.state.ma.us/courts.
Child Support Guidelines are used by Trial Court judges,
primarily in the Probate and Family Court, to help them
determine what level of child support payment should be
provided to custodial parents in divorce and paternity cases
before the courts. The Guidelines also help lawyers and
litigants understand what payment might be expected given
the relative income of the parties in a case. Every four
years the Child Support Guidelines are reviewed by the Trial
Court, as required by Federal Regulation (45 CFR 302.56).
Justice Dortch-Okara said, “The guiding
principle has been and continues to be the best interests
of children. The
changes that have been made reflect careful and thorough
consideration of a variety of helpful commentary that I
received from the public, experts in the field, judges who
use the Guidelines, lawyers, legislators, other state officials,
as well as many other factors.
I thank the many people who took the time to participate
in our five public forums held throughout the state and
to all those who provided thoughtful written responses.”
review consisted of extensive public outreach with forums
held in Boston, Brockton, Lawrence, Worcester, and Springfield
last summer. Two Trial Court judges conducted the public
hearings and 130 individuals testified at the five meetings.
More than 160 individuals, including custodial and non custodial
parents, attorneys, bar associations, legal service agencies,
judges and other court officials, legislators, the Department
of Revenue, and organizations with an interest in child
support, provided written comments.
addition, the study included a data survey and analysis
of Probate and Family Court cases commenced since the Guidelines
were last reviewed in 1997; analysis of recent local and
national data; consultation with experts; review of the
experience of judges who use the Guidelines daily; comparative
analysis of Massachusetts orders with those of other states
for similar scenarios; and a testing of many Guideline changes
to respond to the extensive commentary received and to the
results of a data survey.
changes to the Guidelines include a formula adjustment to
address concerns about the inadequacy of orders for children
of low income obligors, and what was perceived to be excessive
support at higher income levels, particularly for one child.
Adjustments also were made to the maximum gross income to
which the Guidelines apply, the custodial parent income
disregard, and the age add-on for children age 13 or older.
Executive Summary contains a full description of the amended
Child Support Guidelines, which is available on the court’s
website at www.state.ma.us/courts.