Massachusetts General Law chapter 209C governs the laws and procedures governing adjudication of paternity disputes as to children born out of wedlock. The underlying policy of chapter 209C is that "children born to parents who are not married to each other shall be entitled to the same rights and protections of the law as all other children." The purpose of G.L. 209C is to provide a procedure for adjudication of paternity, and "to have an order for support and to have a declaration relative to their custody or visitation rights."
If the court finds that a parent is chargeable with the support of a child, the court shall make an order requiring a parent to pay weekly or at other fixed periods a sum for and toward the current support and maintenance of such child.
The Massachusetts parentage statute expressly authorizes the court to "order past support for the period from the birth of the child to the entry of the order, taking into consideration the parent's ability to pay any support and any support provided by the parent during such period.