Massachusetts Child Support Modification

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

Providing financial support for minor children is the responsibility of both parents. For parents paying child support in Massachusetts, the child support order is determined by calculations based on income, the parenting time schedule, the number of children involved, and any allowable deductions.

The court uses these figures with the state guidelines to calculate the child support amount that the parent owes. This amount is presumed to be correct and this presumption can only be overcome if a parent is able to show that applying the standards would be inappropriate or unjust.

Although the initial child support order might be appropriate because it reflects the parents' present situation, sometimes a child support order should be updated. For instance, you change jobs and your income changes. The court will acknowledge these changes and will generally allow the order to be altered under specific circumstances. However, you can't just stop paying support when a situation arises: You must initiate the appropriate child support modification proceedings.

Massachusetts Child Support Modification at a Glance

Reading and comprehending lengthy statues is a challenging task. Consulting with an attorney can help you better understand what the law says and, more importantly, how it applies to you. However, it never hurts to start your journey with a plain language overview of the law. For a helpful overview of Massachusetts child support modification laws, see the chart below.

Statutes

Massachusetts General Laws:

 

Reasons Used to Modify Child Support

 

Material and Substantial Change in Circumstances Standard

The parent must show a "material and substantial change in circumstances" to modify a child support order.

Massachusetts courts have decided that the following reasons meet the requirement:

  • Health insurance that was available at reasonable costs is not available or is now too expensive;
  • A parent now has access to previously unavailable affordable health insurance;
  • Job loss; or
  • Change in child's living arrangements.

Inconsistency Standard

A child support order can be modified if there is an inconsistency between the amount of the existing order and the amount that would result from application of the child support guidelines.

Modification Process: Parents Agree

  • If both parents agree about changing the support amount, then you will file a copy of the order and other forms as needed, depending on your specific situation.
  • After all the forms have been filed, the court may approve the modification.
  • Both parents will receive a copy of the decision within 30 days.
  • If there are issues (missing or incorrect forms or the judge has questions), then the court will notify you within 21 days that there's a scheduled hearing that both parents must attend.

Modification Process: Parents Disagree

If only one parent wants to change the support order, the modification process will depend on whether the Department of Revenue is involved in the child support arrangement.

If the Dept. of Revenue is involved:

  • Contact them directly.
  • The Dept. will assist you if they determine there's a legal basis for the modification.

If the Dept. of Revenue is not involved:

  • You will file the Complaint for Modification form with the court.

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 Modification: Related Resources

Contact a Massachusetts Attorney for Help with Child Support Modification

Obviously, you want to ensure that your child gets the child support that they're entitled to, but any child support order needs to reflect the parents' current financial situation. Legal professionals are available to help with these issues. Contact a child support attorney near you to discuss your child support issues.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.