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Massachusetts Child Support Payments

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

In Massachusetts, the Department of Revenue (DOR) is the applicable agency for child support payments. DOR collects child support directly or by income withholding (deducting money from the other parent's paycheck).

Before a parent can start receiving payment from the other parent, there must be a child support order in place. If you already have an order for a child but have a child with a different parent and want services for that child, you must file before you can get payments. The same is true if you previously closed a child support case and want to re-open it.

Filing a Complaint

To get child support payments in Massachusetts, you must first file a complaint with the court. The specifics depend on whether you're married to the co-parent.

Married to the Co-Parent

If you're married and going through a divorce, you'll file in the county where you last lived with your spouse if at least one of you still lives there. If you both have moved, then you may file in the county where either of you currently live.

Not Married to the Co-Parent

Paternity must be established if the parents aren't married before a parent starts receiving child support payments.

  • If paternity isn't established, you must file a Complaint to Establish Paternity in the child's county.
  • If paternity is already established, file a Complaint for Support, Custody, Visitation, in the child's county.

Overview of Massachusetts Child Support Payment

An overview written in plain language rather than legal jargon can be useful in comprehending how the law works regarding child support payments in Massachusetts. See the chart below for information on how to pay and receive child support.

Statutes

Massachusetts General Laws:

 

Coverage of Child Support Payments

 

Besides everyday household costs such as food, clothing, and basic living expenses (housing, electricity) other expenses applicable to child support payments may include:

  • Health care costs (premiums and deductibles);
  • Educational expenses; and
  • Child care costs.

Paying Child Support

Income Withholding

If you've been ordered to pay support by income withholding, your employer takes the money for child support payments from your paycheck and forwards it to the DOR. DOR then sends it to the other parent. Because it might take a few weeks for your employer to set up the income withholding, you must send the payments directly to DOR for the initial payment and until the withholding is in place.

Without Income Withholding

If you haven't been ordered to pay support by income withholding, you must send your payments directly to DOR.

Payment methods:

  • Online;
  • Telephone;
  • In-person; or
  • By Mail.

Beginning January 31, 2019, DOR doesn't accept American Express for child support payments made via telephone (still accepted for online payments) or in any DOR child support office.

Receiving Child Support Payments

You can receive child support payments via:

  • Direct deposit or
  • Massachusetts Debit Card.

You may receive a paper check by mail if you meet an exemption.

Exemptions from direct deposit and Massachusetts debit card:

  • A physical/other disability makes it difficult for you to access an electronic payment.
  • A language or reading barrier makes it difficult for you to access an electronic payment.
  • You live and work more than 5 miles from an ATM or bank where you could get the funds.

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 Payment: Related Resources

Need Help with Child Support Payments in Massachusetts? Contact an Attorney

If you have any problems with getting or making child support payments or have other child support issues, take control of your case and discuss it with a child support attorney located near you.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.