Massachusetts law about child support

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

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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 willful 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.

Cavanagh  v. Cavanagh, 490 Mass. 398 (2022)
Alimony Reform Act does not prohibit an award of alimony when child support has been ordered, interpreting G.L. c.208, § 53(c)(2).

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, Mass. Dept. 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, Mass. 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.

Claiming a child as a dependent when parents are divorced, separated or live apart, IRS.gov.
Discusses which parent can claim the child as a dependent which may qualify them for the Child Tax Credit.

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. Dept. 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?

How SSDI Works With Child Support In Massachusetts, Kimberley Keyes, 2017.
Explains how Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) can be credited for child support payments from the noncustodial disabled parent.  This can be done with a complaint for modification.

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

Learn about receiving child support, Mass. 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.

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.

What happens if a parent is in jail?, Mass. Legal Help.
Answers a number of questions regarding child support and jail.

Print sources

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. 

Family Law & Practice. 4th ed. (Mass. Practice v.1, 2, 2A, 3) Thomson Reuters, 2013 with supplement.

  • Chapter 50 Child Support
  • Section 89.14. Rights and liabilities of sperm donors and others as to children conceived by assisted reproduction.

"1st look" at the impact of the new child support guidelines, MCLE, 2021.

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

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

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

Nolo's essential guide to child custody & support by Emily Doskow, Nolo, 2021.

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Last updated: November 4, 2022
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