A non-custodial parent is a parent whose children do not live with him/her the majority of the time. In other words, your children live with the other parent or some other guardian more often than they live with you. In Massachusetts, both parents are financially responsible for their children’s support. As a result, the non-custodial parent usually must pay child support for their children, which is used for housing, education, food, clothing, child care costs, medical needs, etc.
Child support is generally determined by the combined income available to both parents. To get an idea as to what your child support payment would be you can access the child support guideline worksheet that can be found at http://www.mass.gov/courts/forms. Simply input child support guidelines worksheet in the word search box. It is easier to input the income information into the document than to complete it on your own, as it will automatically calculate the amount of support you will likely be responsible to pay.
A Court can order you to pay more or less than the child support you would be responsible for according to the Child Support Guidelines. However, if the Court is going to diverge from the guidelines it must file a form entitled Child Support Findings for Deviation from Guidelines. This will include the reasons for the deviations.
If there is a Court Order for child support or an agreement for child support that a Court has accepted (a Judgment) it can only be changed by the Court. You are responsible for the ordered amount of child support until it is changed by the Court. Once a Court Order for child support is in place, your payments will be made through the Department of Revenue (DOR). Most courts have an office on the premises. Make sure to keep the DOR apprised of changes in address, employment, income, etc. In order to change your child support payment there must be a change in circumstance. An example of a changed circumstance would be an increase or decrease in one parent’s income. Another likely cause for change is a change of one parent’s income due to unemployment, disability or other acceptable reason. Sometimes, the DOR can assist you in assessing whether you are likely entitled to a change in child support or with assistance in seeking a modification.
If you have questions about child custody, child support, or need assistance with modifying your child support, contact a family lawyer at firstname.lastname@example.org.