(Post updated to fix dead links and reference 2021 Guidelines)
In Massachusetts, the Child Support Guidelines define the income that can be used when calculating child support. The list is exhaustive and as a starting point almost all income is considered with very few exceptions (both for the payor and recipient). We've created this handy tool for reference when trying to remember this guideline:
In a recent case, Hoegen v. Hoegen, the Massachusetts Appeals Court indicated that even income from Restricted Stock Units that may have been waived in a property division should be included in the child support determination. Here is a blog post that beat us to an in depth look at that case:
The Appeals Court in the Hoegen case noted that even though RSUs are not included in the sources of income list, the catch-all at the end of the list is expansive: "any other form of income or compensation not specifically itemized above." It's therefore, an easier question to ask what is NOT included in income when calculating child support in Massachusetts, because that's a pretty short list:
1. The Guidelines specifically exclude mean-tested public assistance programs, such as SSDI and food-stamps; and
2. The Guidelines allow the court to exclude income from overtime or secondary job, but only after considering specific factors; and
3. Child Support received for the benefit of children from another relationship is generally excluded as a source of income as well.
What Else Matters:
Defining the income for calculating child support is only the first step. There is a child support formula worksheet and guidelines that help determine how the formula applies in each case. In many cases, even if income is included, it may not be obvious how much child support should result from that additional income. For example, when the household income of the parties exceeds $400,000 there is discretion with the court on how to handle the excess income.
In Massachusetts the statutory waiting period after a Judgment of Divorce and before the divorce becomes final (or absolute) is called the Nisi period. After a divorce case settles or goes to trial, a Judgment of Divorce Nisi will issue and it will become Absolute after a further ninety (90) days. This waiting period serves the purpose of allowing parties to change their mind before the divorce becomes final. If the Judgment of Divorce Nisi has issued but not become final yet, and you and your spouse decide you don't want to get divorced, then you can file a Motion to Dismiss and the Judgment will be undone. Although many of my clients who are getting divorced think the idea of getting back together with their ex sounds crazy, I have had cases where this happened. In addition to offering a grace period to change your mind, the Nisi period has three other legal effects: 1. The most obvious effect of the waiting period is that you cannot remarry during the Nisi period, be
UPDATE: The court has released a web calculating version of the 2021 MA Child Support Guidelines Worksheet . It resolves some of the typos referred to below, but the unexpected calculations still apply. Every four years, per federal mandate, the Massachusetts Probate & Family Court revisits the Child Support Guidelines through the work of a Task Force appointed by the Chief Justice. The 2021 Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines were recently posted. They take effect on October 4, 2021. If you are interested in a training on all of these changes to the new Child Support Guidelines: DMTA Presents the 2021 MA Child Support Guidelines Update – Attend this event to learn the key updates you need to know for your mediation clients. Presented by Justin Kelsey of Divorce Mediation Training Associates and Skylark Law & Mediation, PC . For a full comparison of all the tracked changes between the 2018 and 2021 Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines you can download a pdf sho
If one of the parents in a custody case has a criminal record, the types of crimes on their record could have an effect on their chances of obtaining custody. In custody cases the issue is always going to come down to whether or not the best interests of the child might be affected. In the most extreme case, in which one parent has been convicted of first degree murder of the other parent, the law specifically prohibits visitation with the children until they are of a suitable age to assent. Similarly, but to a less serious degree, in making custody and visitation determinations the court will consider crimes that would cause one to question the fitness of a parent. These types of crimes would obviously include any violent crime convictions which could call into question whether the children would be in danger around a parent who has shown themselves to resort to violence when faced with conflict. In addition, drug and alcohol abuse offenses would call into question a parent