Child Support and Alimony
Parents in Massachusetts are required to provide financial support for their children, whether they are divorced, separated, or have never been married.
Cases involving child support can occur through a divorce action, a paternity action, or in various post-divorce or other actions, such as a modification based on a material change in circumstances sine entry of the original child support order (i.e., loss of a job or conversely, a significant increase in income), or through a contempt action where one party fails or is delinquent in making support payments.
Unless an agreement is reached otherwise or a particular situation calls for deviation, child support is generally determined by consideration of the parties' incomes and application of the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines.
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Alimony or Spousal Support
In general in cases occurring after the effective date of the Alimony Reform Act, Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 208, Sections 48-55, which became effective in 2012, and based on consideration of several factors, including:
Concerns such as the amount and duration of alimony are addressed in the aforementioned sections of the Mass. General Laws. In general, with the exception of very long term marriages, in excess of 20 years, alimony will not be permanent, and even then will generally end when the paying spouse reaches retirement age. Alimony may also be issued for different reasons in a shorter term marriage, such as to provide a spouse with an opportunity to obtain employment or to re-enter the work force.
Negotiating the interrelationship between child support alimony or spousal support can be complicated, and the knowledge and legal skills of your attorney in the presentation of your case, are of great import. For example, generally any income used in determining child support cannot be used for alimony, and the first $250,000.00 in income is used for calculating child support. However, when earnings exceed $250,000.00, alimony may be warranted, although there may be tax reasons, as alimony is deductible by the payor and taxable to the recipient while child support is not, for allocating between child support and alimony. Similarly, depending on the duration of the marriage and the term of alimony, a recipient spouse although not entitled to alimony when receiving child support, may receive alimony upon emancipation of the children.
These are sensitive issues for both parties, as the recipient may have been out of the workforce and unable to support himself/herself, and his/her children, while the payor may be concerned about how to make these support payments while at the same time keeping himself/herself financially afloat. Attorney Gina Leahy can help guide you through these and other concerns.