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2021 CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES RELEASED

Preamble: These child support guidelines shall take effect on October 4, 2021, and shall be applied to all child support orders and judgments entered as of October 4, 2021. In recognition of the priority of the interests of the children of the Commonwealth, these guidelines are formulated to be used by all of the justices of the Trial Court. There shall be a rebuttable presumption that these guidelines apply in all cases establishing or modifying a child support order, regardless of whether the parents of the child are married or unmarried, the order is temporary or final, or the Court is deciding whether to approve an agreement for child support. There shall also be a rebuttable presumption that the amount of the child support order calculated under these guidelines is the appropriate amount of child support to be ordered. These guidelines are based on various considerations, including, but not limited to, each parent’s earnings, income, and other evidence of ability to pay. These guidelines are intended to be of assistance to attorneys and to parties in determining what level of payment would be expected given the relative income levels of the parties. In all cases where an order for child support may be established or modified, a guidelines worksheet must be filled out, regardless of the income of the parties.

Commentary 2021 – Preamble The Child Support Guidelines Task Force for the 2020-2021 review (“Task Force”) was convened by Chief Justice of the Trial Court Paula M. Carey in the summer of 2020 to undertake the quadrennial review of the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines (“guidelines”) as required by federal regulations. See 45 C.F.R. § 302.56. An economic consultant, The Brattle Group, was selected after the Trial Court published a Request for Proposals through the Commonwealth’s official online procurement record site, COMMBUYS. The economic consultant provided information and research to the Task Force. The Task Force’s comprehensive review included assessing each section of the guidelines, line by line, as a whole and in subcommittees. Throughout its review, the Task Force was cognizant that child support in Massachusetts seeks to reflect the incremental cost of raising a child, separate and distinct from expenses of other household members. The Task Force’s role was limited to reviewing the guidelines and making recommendations to Chief Justice Carey. The Task Force heard testimony and reviewed the submissions of members of the public, attorneys, judges, and court staff. A number of the submitted comments addressed topics and issues beyond the scope of the Task Force, such as the statutory provisions relating to custody determinations, child support for children between the ages of 18 and 23, and the interplay between alimony and child support. The Task Force recognizes and agrees that these are important issues, however, the remedy for making statutory changes to address these issues is with the Legislature and not with the Task Force. In formulating its recommendations, the Task Force considered public comments, written testimony, legal and economic research, information from the economic consultant, and the comments and experience of Task Force members. The Task Force recommended edits to simplify and clarify portions of the guidelines, as well as for policy considerations. These guidelines include commentary to indicate the reasoning and intent behind the recommendations of the Task Force. Trial Court departments, parties, and attorneys may use the commentary to resolve questions of interpretation or application of the guidelines. The Task Force recommended eliminating the word “litigant” from the Preamble and instead inserting “parties”, recognizing that not all cases involve litigation.


Read the rest of the 2021 MA Child Support Guidelines here: https://www.mass.gov/doc/2021-child-support-guidelines/download

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