Even if Massachusetts parents have joint physical custody, child support can still be ordered because the purpose of child support is to ensure the children are adequately provided for. The belief is that the children have a right to benefit from the income of both their parents in the same way that the children would have if their parents stayed together.
In determining a Massachusetts child support obligation, the first factor to be considered is the gross incomes of both parents. In determining a parties gross income, the court will consider whether willful underemployment or unemployment is being attempted by either parent. In other words, either parent is capable of earning more money than they currently do.
Even if parents have joint physical custody, child support can still be ordered. This is because the purpose of child support is to ensure the children are adequately provided for regardless of where they reside.
Child support can be a complicated, and often misunderstood, system. While every case is unique and should be discussed with an experienced family law attorney to fully understand the complexities and implications, there are some recurring myths that appear in many cases.
If children are involved in a family law case, there is sometimes a need for temporary child support. Fortunately, Massachusetts has a procedure for obtaining temporary child support. Temporary child support is child support that the court orders to be paid by one parent to the other for the benefit of the child(ren) during the pendency of the case.
In Massachusetts Probate and Family Court cases, resentment can exist between the person paying child support and the person receiving it. The person paying often feel that the amount they are required to pay is too high, especially if they believe that the other party is misusing the money or spending some of the money on him or herself. As a result, the payor often thinks that taking a job that pays less may solve this problem. They believe that even though they'd earn less, their support obligation would fall as well.
The Probate and Family Court in Massachusetts looks at the payor's gross income from all sources when calculating one's child support obligation.
The hope is that when parents don't live together, they both understand it is their obligation, both legally and morally, to step up and care for their children. Part of doing so means that both of them should take some financial responsibility for the children, often in the form of child support. Though we might hope that all parents would willingly contribute, the reality is that some may not. So what happens when someone does not pay child support in Massachusetts? What are the consequences?
Unless you've gone through a Family Court case of your own, chances are you aren't very familiar with the process. Movies and TV shows and some occasional bits of wisdom gleaned from friends may be of how things work. One area that might be especially confusing is that of child support. Many people believe child support is treated like alimony or property division, and can be fought over until a mutually agreeable number is decided upon. However, the reality is very different.
In the case, Morales v. Morales, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, clarified the standard by which child support may be modified. The Court stated that child support modification does not require a finding of a material change of circumstances. Rather, if there is an inconsistency between the amount of the existing order and the amount that would result from application of the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines, the Court must consider the modification request. When such an inconsistency exists, the Court may not simply dismiss the complaint for modification, even if the evidence does not demonstrate a material change of circumstances.