Learn about paying child support

If you’re paying child support, you might want to know about things such as what happens when your child turns 18, if you gain custody of your child, if you start to receive unemployment benefits, or if you have trouble making payments.

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How we collect past due support

Even if you pay an extra amount towards your past-due balance on a weekly basis, we may still take additional enforcement actions against you.

Past-due child support is not like an installment debt that can be paid over time. If you have income or assets that can be used to pay the full amount due, you must do so. Even if you are making periodic payments toward your past-due child support, we are legally allowed to take administrative enforcement actions, such as seizing bank accounts and intercepting (taking) federal and state income tax refunds.

Child support deducted from unemployment benefits

If you are receiving unemployment benefits and your child support is being deducted from those benefits, you may continue to receive a bill from us, even though we are receiving the support payments. Because of the schedule on which we receive the child support from the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA), your bill may say you're 2 weeks behind.

Child receives dependent’s benefit from SSDI

If you receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, your child may receive a “dependent’s allotment” from SSDI. The "dependent's allotment" that your child receives from your SSDI check is not a replacement for your child support payment. However, the court may give you credit against your child support payment based on the amount your child receives as an allotment.

A judge is the only person who can:

  • Review your case
  • Possibly terminate your child support order
  • And give you credit for the amount the child has received from Social Security.

We can help you go to court for a change in your child support order based on your SSDI payments.

Child support after 1 child has turned 18

Your obligation to pay current child support continues until the end date specified in your child support order. Child support may not automatically end when your child turns 18.

Unless your court order specifies a specific amount per child, the amount of child support you have to pay will remain the same until the order ends for all your children. Your child support order may end when a child turns 18, but also may continue up to the child’s 23rd birthday, depending on the court’s order. We follow these guidelines to determine the end date of an order to pay current support:

  • If a court order states that current child support ends on a specific date (month, day, and year), we will stop collecting current child support on the date specified in the order.
  • If the order states that current child support will continue based on certain circumstances and refers to the child’s 23rd birthday, we will stop collecting child support when the youngest child reaches age 23.
  • In all other cases with Massachusetts orders, we will stop collecting current child support when the youngest child reaches age 21. If the order is from another state, we will stop collecting current support based on that state’s law.

If you or the other parent disagrees with that end date, you can go to court and ask for a new court order clarifying the end date. We will update our records if the court orders a different end date.

Child support after gaining custody

If you now have custody of your child, but we are still deducting child support from your wages, it means we have not received a copy of a court order that gives you custody or terminates your child support order.

We will stop collecting your current child support order if you have a court order stating that you have custody of your child and that your current child support order has been terminated.

Without the court order, we cannot stop collecting.

Child support after a change in custody

If custody changes from a custodial parent to a new caretaker, we may need a copy of the court order appointing a legal guardian or order indicating where the child will live. The new caretaker will need to apply for DOR services unless the new caretaker receives cash assistance from the Department of Transitional Assistance. DOR will then notify all parties, as well as the probate court, that payments will be sent to the new caretaker or guardian and may go back to court to ask for a new order.

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