Following what is described as a comprehensive review of the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines Task Force, the Chief Justice of Massachusetts Trial Court released new Child Support Guidelines that became effective on August 1, 2013. In the Trial Court's June 20, 2013 Press Release, it is noted that these revised Guidelines, which supersede any previous Guidelines, are intended to take into consideration current economic realities facing families in Massachusetts.
Noted changes to the Child Support Guidelines include, but are not limited to, the following:
• Income from means-tested public assistance program (such as SSI, SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), or TAFDC (Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children) shall not be counted as income for either the child support recipient or child support payor;
• In addition to considering health, education, training, and past employment history, the Court shall consider the availability of employment at the attributed income level in attributing income to a party whom the Court finds is capable of working, but is either unemployed or underemployed;
• Recognition of the language set forth in the Alimony Reform Act of 2011, which prohibits the use of gross income that the Court considered in entering a child support order from being considered a second time in determining a spousal support order;
• Provision for an upward adjustment to a child support order in cases where the child(ren) spend less than one-third of time with the non-custodial parent, and a specific formula that is to be applied when "parenting time and financial responsibility are shared in a proportion greater than one-third, but less than 50%";
• In cases where the parties' combined available income exceeds $250,000/year, a formulaic provision to apply the Child Support Guidelines on the first $250,000 (in the same proportion as the recipient and payor's actual income) for the Court's consideration as a presumptive minimum order, with support based on income over $250,000 to be within the Court's discretion.
• A Child Support Findings For Deviation form available for the Court that provides an itemized checklist of "specific facts" the Court considers in justifying a deviation from the Guidelines. See here.
(To review the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines, please see here.)