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In this article, you will discover:

  • Everything you need to know about modification in Massachusetts
  • Options available to you when appealing court decisions on modifications
  • Reasons courts may consider modification

Primarily, the inability to pay is the legitimate reason. The court looks at whether you are actually unable to pay or just trying to pull the fast one. And so, being unemployed is a legitimate reason. For example, courts typically understand that that happens and that someone maybe shouldn’t be expected to pay as much while they’re unemployed, but if you don’t have a disability and you have the education and experience to get a job, then they expect you to eventually get a job and be paying at a rate that’s in line with the income that you’re capable of making.

How To Apply For A Downward Or Decrease In Modification Of Child Support In Massachusetts

To apply, you file a complaint for modification with the probate and family court, and you need to explain the reasons that you’re asking for the change and have evidence of the change in the situation, whether it’s a decrease in your income or an increase in your expenses in some way. So, for example, if you’ve had another child that you’re responsible for supporting, that might be a basis for a decrease even if your income’s the same because now you have to support the extra child too.

Your Ability To Appeal A Denied Decision By The Court To Decrease Your Child Support In Massachusetts

I don’t know if I’ve ever seen an appeal win because when you appeal, you’re not just saying that you disagree with the decision; you must find some way that the decision was legally wrong. Generally, that will be hard to do because Massachusetts has guidelines, and the courts follow the guidelines almost all the time. However, every situation is different, so I don’t advise someone against it without sitting down with them and discussing it. Still, the only time that an appeal seems likely to succeed would be if there is something complicated in your situation that the guidelines didn’t anticipate. What is more frequently used is that one has the right to go in and ask for a modification from the same court if your situation changes somehow.

Your Ability To Contest A Modification Made By The Other Parent

It’s always going to be up to the court to decide the correct amount. So, you need to be prepared when you go into court. You show the court that the modification is not warranted for whatever reason, whether because the other parent is lying about their income or because they’re capable of making more income than they’re making. They’re just choosing not to work, or whatever the situation may be. So, once granted, you can appeal, which is generally not worthwhile. Probably, your best bet at that point is if anything changes that would justify an increase, then go back into court once that changes. So whether that’s a change in your income, the change in the other parent’s income, a change in who’s responsible for the health insurance, whatever the situation may be.

Legitimate Reasons The Court Will Consider An Upward Modification Of Child Support In Massachusetts

Generally, the courts stick to the guidelines. So, it’s pretty rare for them to go outside the guidelines. The main exception would be if someone is delinquent in paying the child support, they will order an additional payment until the outstanding balance is paid off. Also, if there are unusual expenses like special medical, or educational needs, that might justify the upward modification.

Your Ability To Appeal A Decision By The Court To Increase The Amount Of Child Support You Must Pay

You can appeal a decision for the amount you must pay in child support. However, as previously mentioned, it’s often not worthwhile to appeal because you have to prove to the appeals court not just that you disagree with the decision but that it was legally wrong in some way. Generally, if they stuck to the guidelines, you’re very unlikely to be able to prove that. But, on the other hand, if they went outside the guidelines for some reason, then maybe you have a better chance of being able to win an appeal.

How Child Support Orders Are First Enforced In Massachusetts

Typically if there is an issue of the compliance with the order, the Department of Revenue will be in charge of collecting the money and setting it up to take it directly out of the payor’s paycheck. However, if there is an issue beyond what the DOR can handle, the payee must take it to court and ask the judge to deal with the situation by filing a complaint for contempt.

For more information on Family Law In Massachusetts, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you seek by calling (617) 718-5550 today.

Patrick Long Law Firm, PC.

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(617) 297-7502

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