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2021 Child Support Guidelines Section III: Modification

Section III of Massachusetts child support guidelines covers changes to existing child support orders.

Table of Contents


A child support order may be modified if any of the circumstances listed below exist.

  1. There is an inconsistency between the amount of the existing order and the amount that would result from the application of the guidelines.
  2. Previously ordered health care coverage is no longer available.
  3. Previously ordered health care coverage is still available but no longer at a reasonable cost or without an undue hardship.
  4. Access to health care coverage not previously available to a parent has become available.
  5. Any other material and substantial change in circumstances has occurred.


Upon a request for modification of an order that deviated from the guidelines at the time it was entered, the Court shall apply the existing deviation to the modification action if:

  1. the facts that gave rise to deviation still exist; and
  2. deviation continues to be in the child’s best interest; and 
  3. the guidelines amount would be unjust or inappropriate under the circumstances.


Section III. B. does not preclude deviations based on other grounds set forth in Section or grounds for modification as set forth in Section III. A.



The Task Force considered and discussed this section and did not recommend any changes.


The Task Force deleted Paragraph B of the 2013 guidelines because it was premised on the assumption that Massachusetts law provides for a separate standard to be used by the Court when the Department of Revenue is providing IV-D services in a case where the order is less than three years old. While the Department of Revenue is not required to use the inconsistency standard when determining whether to provide IV-D services to seek a modification of an order that is less than three years old, the Court must apply the inconsistency standard once any complaint for modification is filed and is before the Court. See 57 Fed. Reg. 61559, 61577 (1992). See also G. L. c. 208, § 28, G. L. c. 209C, § 20 and G. L. c. 209, § 37.

The Department of Revenue’s review process does not prohibit an individual from filing a complaint for modification on his or her own, regardless of whether the case is receiving IV-D services.

The Task Force refined the language to clarify that if circumstances that resulted in a deviation are still in existence during a modification action, those circumstances shall be considered to remain even though it may be appropriate to modify the existing order. For example, a child may have a medical condition that results in ongoing, extraordinary medical expenses and the existing child support order deviates from the guidelines amount. The recipient is now unemployed and files a complaint for modification. The underlying circumstances for the existing deviation remains; however, the Court also considers the additional circumstances.

Additional Resources

Contact for 2021 Child Support Guidelines Section III: Modification

Date published: August 4, 2021

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