Knowledge Base

Child Support Revisited,
September 2017 Guidelines 


September 1, 2017
Written by Lynne C. Halem

In four-year intervals the Child Support Guidelines of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are subject to review and, where deemed appropriate, revision. As such, the August 2013 Guidelines of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts shall be superseded by the “new” Guidelines effective September 15, 2017.  These Guidelines shall apply to all parents, married or unmarried, and to all child support orders, temporary or “final” that are submitted to the court.  For couples who apply for a modification or for individuals filing for modification there shall be a rebuttable presumption that child support calculated under the revised Guidelines shall determine the amount of child support.  Thus these Guidelines shall take priority over all prior orders or petitions for change unless there is a persuasive argument to deviate from the formula or if the parties are applying for a modification of support based on a still applicable deviation or are presenting a rationale for deviation that is acceptable to the court.

For those with existing orders, it is important to note the distinctions between former Guidelines and the revised formula.

When comparing the 2017 Guidelines to its predecessor of 2013, the following changes are noteworthy:

It is worth noting that in 2017, as in prior years, parental decision making, as it pertains to the amount of support paid from one parent to the other or directly to third parties or institutions for the benefit of the child, can and often does play a significant role in shaping support orders. Indeed, to go one step further, we suggest that mediation is the vehicle to approach the subject of family support—be it child support or alimony.  Mediation not only offers divorcing couples a forum designed to facilitate creative decision making, but also provides an opportunity for parents to analyze children’s and parents’ needs and resources in a safe environment where reason and facts play significant roles.

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