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Modifying Child Support in Massachusetts: What Are My Options?

The amount of child support you or your ex-spouse pays may have been sufficient when the court made the ruling, but sometimes what worked previously doesn’t work for the long haul.

To obtain more child support or lower the amount you pay, you must work with your child’s other parent to do so or have a judge make a new order. As you navigate the child support modification process, you will find the following tips helpful.

In determining whether or not a modification is warranted, the following factors will be considered by the court:

  • Major life event or change in circumstances-This includes things like the loss of a job, change in marital status, a serious injury, or any other event that impacts the parent’s ability to pay child support.
  • Change in health insurance-The previously ordered health insurance is not available any longer, or the cost has become unreasonable.
  • Inconsistency in child support guidelinesA difference between what is currently paid and what would result from the guidelines.

If you and your ex-spouse agree to the change, you can file a Joint Petition for Modification of Child Support. Many times there will not be a hearing and the court will make the decision based solely on the petition.

If you are in a situation where you need to lower the amount of child support you pay and your ex isn’t willing to negotiate, there are some things you can do while waiting for the court hearing:

  • Act quickly-As soon as your circumstances change or you are aware they will, start working on child support modification.  When you are ready to file your request, do so with the court that issued the child support order that is currently in place.
  • Pay what you can-Put forth your best effort to pay as much as possible in the manner specified on the court order. This will be helpful in your child support modification case. Failure to pay anything can work against you.
  • Document-What caused your change in circumstances and what are you doing about it? If you lost your job and you are looking for a new one, record the dates of the job loss and any information pertaining to your attempts at finding a new job.

Do you have questions about child support modification? Contact us to discuss your options.

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