Child support is one of the biggest issues presented before the Probate and Family Courts on a daily basis. Once custody orders are in place, how is a child support amount calculated?
Your child support amount is a reflection of the time you spend with your children. The idea behind the amount set for child support is to maintain the same standard of living across both homes. The Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines, the most recent version having gone into effect in 2019, is the place where all parents begin in calculations. The Guidelines take into account the gross weekly incomes of the parties and deduct from each person amounts paid for health insurance, dental insurance, vision insurance and child care. There is also a deduction for other child support obligations.
The biggest difference we see in a child support calculation is in families where custody is shared (50-50 or close to it) versus in families where one parent has primary custody. In a primary custody scenario, the guidelines presume that one parent has the children for 33.3% of the time and the other for the remaining. The guideline assumes this division and runs the figures based on this presumption. In a shared custody scenario, the guidelines presume that the parents share the team equally. As I am sure you can image, the shared custody child support amount is typically much lower than the sole custody amount of support.
The Guidelines also allow the courts to deviate from the amount on the guidelines worksheet for a number of reasons. It is important to provide as much detail as possible about time spent and money expended for your child or children as it could play a key role in setting the appropriate child support figure.