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If both parents share joint legal and physical custody, generally neither parent will have to pay child support. There are guidelines that determine who is supposed to pay for support and the amount and for joint custody usually neither pays. The judges almost always follow the guidelines, but they can override it. For instance, if one parent has significantly more income than the other one, the judge might override the guidelines in a joint custody arrangement. However, if the incomes are fairly similar, then neither parent would have to pay child support to the other one. One parent having custody does mean that the judge will order child support. If the other parent has no income, there is a minimum amount specified in the guidelines that they’re supposed to pay, although as a practical matter, if they can’t pay it, they can’t pay it. The judge will only hold someone in contempt for intentional nonpayment, but someone who is unable to pay will have an arrearage that will have to be paid off if their income ever increases. The formula in the guidelines is based on how much income each parent has, and it helps indicate what each parent is supposed to contribute based on their incomes. It will also depend on who is and isn’t the custodial parent.

What confuses some people is the misconception that visitation and child support are tied together. In reality, they are two separate issues in the court’s mind and by law. As a result, if someone’s not paying child support, it’s not a basis to deny them visitation. The court won’t allow that. In that kind of situation, the court would order them to pay support by a certain date or go to jail. And paying your child support doesn’t mean you get more visitation.

How Is The Amount Of Child Support Calculated Or Determined In Massachusetts?

In Massachusetts, the amount of child support is calculated by the guidelines. The guidelines can be Googled and there’s a worksheet that the court has that lets you enter information if you have Adobe Acrobat. Once you enter the information, it’ll spit out the answer for you. The basic questions include: Who does the child live with? What are the parents’ incomes? There are other factors, such as if you have children from another marriage or relationship to support. There would be an adjustment given that information. If a parent is paying for certain expenses, like medical health insurance or daycare, the amount of child support can be adjusted based on those costs.

When Does Child Support Generally Start? Can It Start During A Separation?

Child support normally starts the first time the case goes into court. Each party has to file a financial statement and update it every time there’s a hearing in the case. The court can set child support once they have that information. At that time, they are able to determine the amount of child support. It will usually happen while the case is still pending. Child support, visitation, and a temporary arrangement for custody are matters that the judge wants ironed out right away because it can take a long time to get a final resolution and these issues can’t wait.

How Long Does Child Support Generally Last?

The length of child support will depend several factors. Child support at least lasts until the age of 18. In Massachusetts, however, the assumption is that the parent is supposed to support a child who’s in college. Therefore, child support can last until the age of 23 if the child is still a full-time student.

How Is Division Of Marital Assets And Marital Debts Distributed And Divided In Massachusetts?

In Massachusetts, marital assets and debts have to be divided equitably, and it depends on the case. That means that assets and debts can be divided fifty-fifty, but it doesn’t mean that they are always divided that way either. For example, if a spouse is having an affair and spending a lot of money on the person they’re having an affair with, the asset distribution is the time to bring that up. If they spent money outside of the marriage, their share of an equitable distribution may be a bit less than half to account for all the money that they spent on their paramour. Division can also be influenced by other things, such as if one person is healthy and working while the other one is disabled. The disabled spouse might get more because they need more for health care or special equipment and are less able to make an income to support themselves. It is worth noting, that any assets that were brought into the marriage are not counted in the distribution of assets. However, assets that were acquired during the marriage get divided.

Does Massachusetts Recognize Spousal Support Or Alimony In A Divorce Case? How Is Alimony Or Spousal Support Calculated In Massachusetts?

Massachusetts does recognize spousal support or alimony in divorce cases. Alimony is based on a set of factors. The first factor is the incomes of the parties, and there are other things that go into that. The length of the marriage, for instance, makes a big difference. Shorter marriages tend to have a shorter period of alimony. There can also be rehabilitative alimony, which applies to someone who’s not working and needs time to get back on their feet. They can get alimony to cover expenses while they find employment. Other factors include the age and health of the spouses as well as their potential for income in the future. If someone has a Ph.D. or a professional degree, and they’re currently unemployed, they will be expected to get a job eventually, unless they have a disability that prevents them. Another factor would be the lifestyle they experienced during the marriage. Typically, that’s not something that’s relevant to most people because the incomes would already account for that scenario. However, if there’s a large disparity in incomes, like a billionaire married to a normal person, the normal person might get more to help them maintain the lifestyle they’re used to.

Each spouse’s contribution to the marriage is always considered. For example, a stay-at-home mom would get credit for the contribution that she made by taking care of the kids. It would be considered as loss of economic opportunity due to the marriage. Therefore, the stay-at-home parent that had a promising career and gave it up is going to be credited. They will receive a higher alimony than someone that didn’t make those sacrifices. Ultimately, the judge is going to try to do what they think is fair. They have a lot of discretion and there are also guidelines.

For more information on Family Law In Massachusetts, an initial case evaluation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling today.

Patrick Long Law Firm, PC.

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