Posts Tagged ‘Child Support formula’

child supportMost states have child support guidelines. These are formulas that the courts of a particular state will use to determine a child support amount. While the elements of the formula will vary by state, the most important factors are the incomes of the parties and number of children. The formulas will usually also include some type of adjustment for health insurance, child care costs and sometimes other expenses.

Judges are usually empowered with discretion to vary from these formulas. Depending upon the particular judge and jurisdiction, this may or may not happen. If you think that your particular situation merits a variance from the formula amount, you should thoroughly discuss the matter with your attorney and decide whether it is worthwhile to present your arguments to the Court. While the Court may not grant your entire request, the Judge may make some type of favorable adjustment to the amount indicated by the formula.

Common arguments to vary child support from state child support guidelines include tax issues, unreported income, large and unusual business expenses, prior child support orders, large and unusual personal expenses of a parent, children’s educational expenses, time spent at college, health and medical issues, other ways in which the non-custodial parent is supporting the child(ren), the amount of time the child(ren) are in the care of a particular parent, unusual travel expenses for visitation with the children, imputation of income; and the interplay of alimony and child support. Judges also usually have the discretion to determine who can claim any income tax exemptions and/or tax credits associated with the children (or at least adjust the child support amount to compensate for these exemptions and/or tax credits).

An experienced divorce attorney will be able to evaluate your particular situation, tell you the particular tendenices of an individual judge and determine what types of arguments might be favorably received by the Court.

There are generally two types of child custody — legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to whomever makes major life decisions for the child (usually health, educational and religious decisions, although is is important to note that that, without the prior permission of the other parent or court, even a parent with sole legal custody can’t remove the child from Massachusetts permanently). Physical custody refers to whomever has the child “physically” on a day-to-day basis. One issue that frequently arises is that of joint physical custody, where custody of the child is shared by both parents. This involves many aspects, such as visitation vs parenting plans and whether joint physical custody is beneficial or detrimental to the child.

Commonly, both parents will seek sole physical custody during a separation or divorce, and the court must decide what is in the best interest of the children. A compromise solution would be for the parents to settle for joint physical custody, which typically means the child will spend an equal time with each parent, perhaps several weeks or months at a time with each parent. The pro argument goes that this is beneficial for the child because the child gets to spend equal time with each parent, thereby receiving more balanced nurturing. However, the con argument is that this is ultimately detrimental and disruptive to the child’s well-being, as the child never has the opportunity to settle into a single home with either parent, but is constantly shuttled back and forth, thereby having no sense of stability in his or her young life. Thus the court must decide in favor of what is in the best interest of the child.

Generally, the court will seek to keep siblings together and assign sole custody to one “custodial” parent, with visitation rights extended to the other, “noncustodial” parent, or the modern version of “a parently plan.” These rights may include the child spending several hours, weekends or some vacation time with the noncustodial parent. If there is any concern over the child’s safety with the noncustodial parent, supervised visitation may be ordered.

Massachusetts child custody laws allow shared physical custody, or co-parenting if the co-parents can arrive at a mutual agreement outside of court to continue to raise their child together with some type of joint physical custody arrangement. This arrangement must be submitted in detail to the court for review, at which point the court may approve the co-parenting plan as submitted, or modify the plan prior to approval. The details included in the co-parenting plan cover issues such as how custodial time will be split between the co-parents and how expenses will be split. If the co-parents are not able to reach an agreement on a custody the Massachusetts child custody laws and courts will determine issues of custody, visitation, and support in accordance with the best interests of the child.

The information contained in this blog is for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. The use of this Blog does not create an attorney/client relationship between you and the Law Offices of Barry R. Lewis. If you are considering divorce or if you are involved in any legal matter, you should hire an attorney.

Massachusetts Divorce and Family Law
Attorney Barry R. Lewis — Divorce Law Specialist
Locations Throughout Eastern & Central Massachusetts :: 508-879-3262