Massachusetts Child Support Calculations

Created by FindLaw's team of attorney writers and editors.

In Massachusetts, both parents are equally responsible for financially supporting their minor children, regardless of marital status. One way that a parent fulfills this duty is by making child support payments.

Massachusetts follows an "income shares" model to calculate the support obligation; this means that the state uses both parents' income for calculations to replicate the support the child would've received had the parents lived together in the same household. You can get an estimate of the amount by using the state's guidelines worksheets to calculate a child support order.

Specific information about income, expenses, and the number of children involved is used to complete the worksheets that determine the presumed correct amount for the obligation. The court will apply this amount unless a party can show that applying the guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate. Specific facts of the case must justify the court straying from the guidelines amount and the court must find that it's in the best interests of the child to do so.

Factors Used to Determine Child Support Amount

The amount of the child support obligation depends on the following factors:

  • Both parents' income;
  • The parenting time schedule; and
  • Deductions (health care costs, and other obligations).

Explanation of Massachusetts Child Support Calculations

The laws that govern child support calculations are lengthy and contain detailed information. Working with an attorney and reading a jargon-free guide to the statutes is an excellent way to understand the content. The chart below provides an explanation of Massachusetts child support calculations in readable terms.

Statutes

Massachusetts General Laws:

Parents' Income

Massachusetts' child support calculations are based on gross income, not net income.

Parenting Time

Determination of "parenting time" -- the time that the parent spends with their child -- is part of the child support calculations. So parents that have shared physical custody where they have equal parenting time may still require a child support order.

Calculations for 50/50 Parenting Time:

  • The support is determined by performing the calculation first with one parent as the primary caretaker.
  • Then the calculation is performed using the other parent as the primary caretaker.
  • Next, subtract the smaller number from the larger, and the difference is the presumptive child support amount the higher earning parent will pay the other parent.

Allowed Deductions

  • Health care costs;
  • Dental insurance;
  • Vision insurance;
  • Child care costs; and
  • Other support obligations (including prior alimony obligation, support for other children)

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Massachusetts Child Support Calculations: Related Resources

Discuss Child Support Calculations with a Massachusetts Attorney

Understanding Massachusetts child support calculations isn't intuitive, but ensuring that the child support obligation is accurate is important for your child. If you have any problems with calculations or other child support issues, take control of your case and discuss it with a child support attorney.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.