Selected Massachusetts Cases on Modification of Child Support

by | Oct 18, 2023 | Child Support |

Here are important cases addressing the issue of modifying a child support order.

Ardizoni v. Raymond, 40 Mass. App. Ct. 734 (1996)

The standard for modification of child custody/visitation is a material and substantial change of circumstances since the prior judgment was entered and the desired change of child custody/visitation is in the child’s best interest.

Barnes v. Devlin, 84 Mass. App. Ct. 159 (2013)

A father could not unilaterally stop paying child support under an agreed-upon separation agreement, where he argued that the conditions do not comply with MGL c.208, § 28. His “proper recourse, as the judge stated, would have been to initiate appropriate modification proceedings, as opposed to unilaterally stopping payments.”

 Cabot v. Cabot, 55 Mass. App. Ct. 756 (2002)

If an incorporated separation agreement or a divorce judgment fails to provide for a child’s education, a modification complaint may be brought on the ground that the educational costs are a material and substantial change of circumstances.

 Calabria v. Calabria, 91 Mass. App. Ct. 763 (2017)

“In the circumstances of this case, in which the parties expressly provided for retroactive adjustment of child support in their separation agreement, and where the adjustment fosters the best interest of the couple’s minor child and does not derogate (deviate) from the purposes of G. L. c. 119A, § 13, such a retroactive award was within the judge’s equitable authority.”

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).

 Feinstein v. Feinstein, 95 Mass. App. Ct. 230 (2019)

In this case, the Appeals Court found: “A probate Court has the power to modify a child support order in the context of either a complaint for contempt or a complaint for modification.  A modification on a complaint for contempt may occur even in the absence of a contempt finding.”

 Malachi M. v. Quintina Q., 483 Mass. 725 (2019)

“In a proceeding to modify a child custody decision, the judge must consider evidence of domestic abuse that occurred before the entry of the divorce judgment.”

 Morales v. Morales, 464 Mass. 507 (2013)

“We conclude that the trial judge … erred in applying a standard requiring a material and substantial change in circumstances (material and substantial change standard) rather than the standard set forth in G. L. c. 208, § 28… which provides that a child support order shall be modified ‘if there is an inconsistency between the amount of the existing order and the amount that would result from application of the child support guidelines’. (inconsistency standard).”

 Smith v. Edelman, 68 Mass. App. Ct. 549 (2007)

“A substantial post-divorce increase in the income of the noncustodial parent did not [warrant] an increase in child support, where the children’s needs were well met and where there was no material disparity in the standards of living between the custodial and noncustodial households.” “The goal of maintaining the standard of living of the family as though it had remained intact is not without limit; an increase in child support based solely on an increase in income of the noncustodial spouse may have the effect of constructively distributing the noncustodial parent’s estate, and is accordingly disfavored.”

 Whelan vs. Whelan, 74 Mass. App. Ct. 616 (2009)

A “judge must determine whether claimed business deductions are reasonable and necessary to the production of income, without regard to whether those deductions may be claimed for Federal or State income tax purposes.”

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