Child Custody

Child Support Guidelines – What are they? How have they changed?

In Massachusetts, the Commonwealth uses Child Support Guidelines to estimate the correct amount of child support to be paid. The amount of support is determined by a set of factors outlined in the Child Support Guidelines and by applying the applicable factors to a Child Support Worksheet. The worksheet is calculated to reflect the amount of money for the benefit of the children that the custodial parent (who the children reside with primarily) will receive from the non-custodial parent. When there is a joint custodial arrangement the worksheet is calculated by having each parent as the recipient and subtracting the difference between the two outcomes. The factors that the guidelines consider are things such as, each parents’ income, the costs for health insurance, the costs for child care, and any other relevant costs. The court can also order the payment of college expense and extracurricular activities. On Friday, September 15, 2017, the Commonwealth will be implementing new Child Support Guidelines. The changes were made by a task force after careful review and consideration of the increased costs associated with raising a child in Massachusetts. Key changes that were made to the guidelines are as follows: 1) Minimum support increased from the 2002 standard of $18.46 per week to $25.00 per week due to an increase in the overall cost of living in Massachusetts since 2002. 2) Actual time spent parenting is not determinative of Child Support. The new guidelines are based on only two scenarios, joint custody and one parent

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Can I bring my significant other or children to my court hearing?

This is often a question that clients ask us. The simple answer is no, we advise against it. But you may be wondering why? We advise bringing a significant other or your children to your court hearing for a multitude of reasons. For one, children are often the subject of the hearing and it would be inappropriate and unfair to the child to be witness to the hearing. If the child is not subject to the hearing, we still advise against having them accompany you because you need to give your full attention to your attorney’s and the hearing. We further suggest that that boyfriends and girlfriends are left at home. Again, in contentious cases there are often accusations thrown about regarding your significant other, to have said person present would potentially lead to more conflict and distraction. So remember, as much as we want our clients to have support, it is better for your case if the crowd of supporters is restricted.

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The Challenges Behind Parental Relocation

Sharing custody of a child is difficult enough when two parents live in the same area, however when one parent wishes to move to another state with a child, a new set of challenges arises. In Massachusetts, a parent must request permission to move out of the state with the child. The other parent has a right to object, and challenge the request. Moving away can have major impacts on the other parent’s ability to spend time with the child. Unless the parents reach an agreement, the dispute will be left for the courts to resolve. Massachusetts courts must consider a number of specific factors when determining whether to grant a parent’s request to relocate. As with any other custody dispute, the courts consider the best interests of the child. This standard requires courts to evaluate both the positive and negative impacts the move will have on the child. In particular, the courts evaluate how the move will impact the child’s emotional or physical needs. The courts also recognize that the well-being of the custodial parent can affect the child’s best interests. As a result, the courts evaluate whether the move will improve the quality of life for both the parent and the child. Factors such as employment prospects, available support of family and friends, and the anticipated living situation in the new state are all factors that the courts consider. Relocation is a unique custody issue. There are many different variables, which can make the issue even more challenging.

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