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Massachusetts law about child support

A compilation of laws, regulations, cases and web sources on child support law.

Table of Contents

Best bet

Self-help: child support
Learn more about the process of filing for, changing, and requesting child support, as well as the guidelines that determine child support.

Massachusetts laws

MGL c. 119A § 1A Child Support Enforcement. Defines [child support] obligor as: an individual, or the estate of a decedent, who owes or may owe a duty of support, or who is liable under a child support obligation, or who is alleged, by sworn statement, to be the parent of a child to whom a duty of support is owed.

MGL c.208, § 28 Children; care, custody and maintenance; child support obligations; provisions for education and health insurance

MGL c.209D Uniform Interstate Family Support Act

MGL c. 210, § 6 terminates rights, duties and legal obligations of biological parent upon adoption of child

MGL c.273,§ 1 Failure to comply with support order

MGL c.273, § 15 Duty to support children born out of wedlock

MGL c.273,§ 15A Abandonment and wilful nonsupport

Massachusetts regulations

830 CMR 18.18A.1 
Cooperation by applicants for and recipients of public assistance with efforts by the Child Support Enforcement Division of the Department of Revenue to establish parentage and establish, modify and enforce child support orders

830 CMR 119A 
Child Support Enforcement (Department of Revenue)

Federal laws

18 U.S.C. § 228 Failure to pay legal child support obligations

Guidelines

Child support guidelines
The guidelines are the basis for deciding how much child support should be paid.

Selected cases

Adoption of Marlene , 443 Mass. 494 (2005)
Supreme Judicial Court held: "We conclude that a parent's consent to adoption of his or her child under G.L. c. 210, § 2 , does not terminate the parental duty to support the child."

Bobblis v. Costa, 94 Mass. App. Ct. 264 (2018) Appeals court determined that child’s participation in U.S. Army Reserve Officer Training Corp program (ROTC) does not constitute entry into the military, thereby triggering emancipation for child support purposes.

Leavitt v. Restuccia, Mass. Appeals Court No. 20-P-119 (2021)
The judge’s calculation of child support pursuant to the guidelines was error, as he improperly included in the mother’s income the SSDI dependency benefit that the mother received on behalf of the child as a result of the father’s disability. The SSDI dependency benefit must be included in the income of the noncustodial disabled parent — here the father. … After calculating the presumptive support order, the disabled father is entitled to a dollar-for-dollar credit equal to the amount of the SSDI dependency benefit. … Put another way, the $39 dependency benefit must be included in the father’s gross income prior to calculation of child support and then deducted from the presumptive order."

L.W.K. v. E.R.C., 432 Mass. 438 (2000)
Explains the obligation for child support after the death of the paying parent.

Okoli v. Okoli , 81 Mass. App. Ct. 371 (2012)
A husband was required to pay child support for twins who "were conceived through in vitro fertilization (IVF) using donor sperm and donor eggs.." "even though he did not intend to be legally responsible for any child so created." He "was the legal father of the children because he consented to the artificial insemination of his wife."

Rosen v. Rosen , 90 Mass. App. Ct. 677 (2016)
Retroactive modification - equity. Lists the six elements that a child support payor must demonstrate in order to receive an "equitable credit against a child support arrearage."

Forms

Court forms

Apply for child support services, Massachusetts Department of Revenue, Child Support Enforcement Division.

Web sources

Child support , Mass. Legal Help
Site is packed with information, including getting child support, paying child support, changing child support, the Dept. of Revenue, and much more

Child support enforcement, Dept. of Revenue
Either parent or the child’s caretaker can apply for our services to establish paternity (get an order determining a child’s legal father) or to get, enforce, or change a child support order.

Child support: Family law advocacy for low and moderate income litigants, 3d ed, 2018, chapter 8  
Includes information on how to get child support, out of state orders, and modifications, as well as checklists and forms.

The custodial parent's duty to account to the noncustodial parent for how child support money is spent , Laura Wish Morgan. A lengthy discussion of the issue of whether or not to require accounting by the custodial parent. Includes many references to caselaw and secondary sources.

DOR child support case manager
For parents paying or receiving child support, DOR can help you to manage your child support information, review your payment history, set up or change your direct deposit, and provide other helpful services.  You can see and do some of these things by logging into the Case Manager, an interactive online tool for managing your child support case.

DOR guides for customers going to court, Mass. Department of Revenue, Child Support Enforcement  
"Before you go to court, it might be helpful for you to review the information package for the court you are visiting. The court packages contain useful information such as what to bring, what not to bring, what to expect, where to go when you arrive, etc."

FAQs about divorce, Alan Pransky.
Answers many common questions about child support, including Can I take a new job that pays less and reduce my child support payment?; Can I suspend visitation because I'm not getting child support?; Does custody and visitation affect the amount of child support?; What effect does remarriage have on child support?; I don't want to pay child support any more. Can I relinquish my parental rights? How do I enforce my court orders?;How do you terminate child support payments when the child is emancipated?; and Who gets to claim the children as dependents for tax returns?

Information for employers about child support, Dept. of Revenue Child Support Enforcement.
Comprehensive site for employers on child support.

Learn about receiving child support, Probate and Family Court.
Find out how child support is determined and paid. The judge will use the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines Worksheet that you fill out to help determine the amount of child support that will be paid.

New $3,000 child tax credit could raise issues for divorced parents, CNBC, March 11, 2021.
Because only one parent can claim a child per year, it is unclear how the advance payments under the American Rescue Plan will affect parents who alternate which parent will claim the credit each year.

Nolo's essential guide to child custody and support , Nolo, 2020
Not specific to Massachusetts. "This book will walk you through everything you need to know about child custody, shared parenting, and the rules about supporting your children." Also provides a list of what decisions need to be made and when. Chrome and Firefox are the recommended web browsers to access this title.  Requires library card for access

What can I do if DOR/CSE seizes -“levies” my bank account?, Mass. Legal Help.
"If you do not pay your child support, the Department of Revenue Child Support Enforcement Division (DOR/CSE) can seize your bank account to pay for the child support you owe." Find out what you can do.

Print sources

Child support & custody update, MCLE, 2018

Dollinger, Hon. Richard A., "Judicial ethics: the obligation to report tax evasion in support cases,” Journal of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Vol. 27 page 1. Available at no charge through our Document Delivery Service.

Family Law & Practice. 4th ed. Thomson Reuters, 2013 with supplement.

  • Section 50.55.  Death of child support obligor
  • Section 89.14. Rights and liabilities of sperm donors and others as to children conceived by assisted reproduction.

LexisNexis practice guide : Massachusetts family law, LexisNexis, 2021. Chapter 7.

Massachusetts divorce law practice manual , MCLE, loose-leaf. Chapter 10.

Massachusetts domestic relations, LexisNexis, with supplement. Chapter 10.

Massachusetts practice v. 2 (Family law and practice) , 4th ed., Thomson Reuters, 2013 with supplement. Chapter 50

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Last updated: March 12, 2021
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