Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines

Every child has the legal right to receive financial support from his or her parents, whether the parents are separated, divorced, or were never married. Child support is a parent’s court-ordered payment to help with the costs of raising a child. In Massachusetts, child support obligations normally last until the child turns 18 years old, but can continue until he or she turns 20 if the child is still in high school.

How to Request Child Support in Massachusetts

There are several ways a parent can receive child support. Parents can make an agreement and ask a judge to approve support order in a civil case such as a divorce or other family law proceedings. However, the majority of cases start by completing an "Application for Full Child Support Services" (PDF) and submitting it to the local Department of Revenue office (DOR).

The DOR can help a parent locate the noncustodial parent, establish paternity for children born outside of marriage, establishment of support obligations, collection and distribution of support, and enforcement of support obligations.

Who is Eligible for Services?

Either parent or a child's guardian may apply for services to:

  • Enforce and collect an existing child support order; or
  • Establish paternity for a child under 18 years of age; or
  • Establish a child support order for a child under 18 years of age; or
  • Modify a child support order for a child under 18 years of age; or
  • Enforce past-due support owed under a court order for child support.

Calculation of Support

The court determines child support amounts using a set of support guidelines enacted by the state. A judge will calculate the child support formula using a somewhat complicated mathematical computation. The most significant factors are each parent's income, daycare expenses, the cost of medical insurance, any social security benefits the child may be receiving and the living arrangements of the children.

What Choices Do I have Regarding Receiving Child Support Payments?

You can choose to have your child support payments deposited directly into a bank account of your choice or to have your payments loaded into a Child Support Card account. Checks are no longer issued unless you qualify for an exemption.

The following table highlights the main provisions of Massachusetts child support laws. See also Child Custody, Child Support Modifications, and Child Support Enforcement.

Code Section MGL 119A et. seq .
Who is Responsible? Both parents
How Support is Calculated?

Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines

Factors

Guidelines are based upon the monthly income of both parents even if the parents are not working, the court may order them to pay child support. In some cases, both parents may be ordered to pay support for a child not in their care.

What is Included in a Support Order? Monetary support (Food, clothing, & shelter), Health Insurance, Basic Education Expenses. Also might include Child Care Expenses, Extraordinary Medical Expenses, Visitation travel costs, and Extracurricular Activities.
When Do Child Support Payments End?

In basic terms child support in Massachusetts stops when the child turns age:

  • 18, unless the child is still principally dependent on the custodial parent (i.e. the child is no longer principally dependent if they've moved out of the home, except for college, is employed full time, is married, of has joined the military);
  • 21, unless the child is enrolled in a full-time undergraduate college program;
  • 23, unless the child is a disabled adult and the subject of a guardianship, but this is rare.
Local Child Support Offices

Massachusetts Department Of Revenue (DOR) Child Support Enforcement Division , 800-332-2733

Child Support Resources Forms

Because Massachusetts child support laws can sometimes get complicated, it may also be a good idea to consult an experienced Massachusetts child support attorney if you have questions about your specific situation.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.