How to Increase Child Support Payments
Child Support Attorneys in Massachusetts
When the amount of child support you’ve been receiving no longer covers your children’s basic needs, you have the right to go back to court to seek an increase.
The most common reasons for a court to increase child support payments include:
- An inconsistency between the amount of an existing child support order and the amount that would result from the application of the current guidelines
- A substantial increase in the payor’s income
- A substantial decrease in the recipient’s income
- A substantial increase in the child’s needs, such as medical or educational expenses
- When parenting time is less than one-third for the person paying child support
Defining Income in Child Support Calculations
For purposes of calculating child support, income is defined as gross income from whatever source regardless of whether that income is recognized by or reported to the Internal Revenue Service or other taxing authorities.
Sources of income that a family law judge may consider in modification include:
- Overtime and tips
- Severance pay
- Royalties and bonuses
- Interest and dividends
- Income derived from businesses
- Social security
- Military pay
- Veterans’ benefits
- Insurance benefits
- Workers’ compensation
- Unemployment compensation
- Net rental income
- Lottery or gambling winnings
Divorce Worksheet: How to keep track of medical and dental reimbursement. Download here.
What You Need to Know About Modifications
Income Attribution in Massachusetts
Income may be attributed where a finding has been made that either parent is capable of working and is unemployed or underemployed. The Massachusetts courts consider all relevant factors including the education, training, health, past employment history of the parent and the availability of employment at the attributed level. Once the court makes a determination that one of the spouses is earning less than he or she could through reasonable effort, the court can consider potential earning capacity rather than actual earnings in making orders relating to child support.
Child Support Guidelines May Not be Applicable When Combined Available Income Exceeds $250,000
In cases where combined available income is more than $250,000, the guidelines should only be applied on the first $250,000 of combined income.
The child support obligation based on any income that exceeds $250,000 is within the discretion of the court. The Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines worksheet provides a tool for calculating a support order that exceeds $250,000, based upon the parties’ proportional share of the combined income.
Courts Will Not Enforce Verbal Child Support Agreements
It’s essential to get court approval for any child support modification. Even if you and your child's other parent have entered into an agreement and have agreed to a new amount, you must go to court and ask a judge to approve your agreement and issue a new order reflecting your terms in order for it to be enforceable.
Child Support Enforcement Attorneys
When parents charged with paying child support fail to make their payments — or do not make them on time — enforcement actions can be made on support orders. MLG’s child support attorneys can help handle enforcement and contempt actions, and we have experience with seeking judgment for back support — both for parents pursuing those judgments and for those defending against them.