Every four years, Massachusetts reviews its child support guidelines, and this review is currently taking place. The Honorable Paula Carey, Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Trial Court, has appointed a 16 member panel to review current guidelines, which took effect September 15, 2017 (amended June 15, 2018).
The Task Force invites comment from the public and lawyers via email by January 26, 2020 at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Task Force is also holding three forums, over Zoom, at which citizens can speak for 3 minutes. If you would like to address the Task Force, you should email them at least 15 minutes before a meeting starts with your name, phone number, email, and the date that you would like to speak.
The dates and times of the forum are as follows: January 21, 2021, from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. (EST); January 22, 2021, from 11 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. (EST); and January 26, 2021, from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. (EST).
The Zoom link information for joining is:
Take the example of a couple who have one child, identical incomes ($2500/week), and 50-50 custody. If Spouse A pays $100/week for health care and childcare, it is obvious how to share this cost: they have equal incomes and equal custody, so they should equally share the $100/week for health and child care costs. This would mean Spouse B should reimburse Spouse A $50/week, so that each is contributing $50/week.
When this scenario is run through the 2018 Child Support Guidelines Worksheet, however, the spouse who pays the $100 per week for health care is only reimbursed $18 rather than the $50. So one spouse pays 82% of the health care costs and the other pays only 18%, even though they have exactly equal incomes and exactly equal parenting time. In this case the person who happens to write the check for health care or childcare expenses is punished financially.
6) Make modification easier. A primary way to do this is to simply the Financial Statements. If nothing else, the income threshold for requiring the Long Form, which is particularly difficult to fill out, could be raised to $120,000. Because of inflation, the equivalent of $75,000 from the year 2000 is about $115,000 today.
7) Give clearer guidelines for how to determine whether child support should continue past age 18 for those who are in college. It’s a bit odd to pay astronomical college costs for a child, pay for that child’s housing for a summer internship, and then continue to pay child support to the ex-spouse when the child really isn’t at home much. It would make sense to connect child support costs and college costs.