Massachusetts divorce lawyer Jason V. Owens discusses the open comment period for the 2017 changes to the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines.
UPDATE (7/19/18): The 2017 Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines have been released, along with the 2016-2017 Task Force Report. Check out our coverage of the major changes under the 2017 Child Support Guidelines here.
Every four years, Massachusetts updates its Child Support Guidelines based on changes recommended by the individuals appointed by Chief Justice Paula Carey to the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines Task Force. The most recent edition of the Guidelines became effective on August 1, 2013, following the report of the 2012 Child Support Task Force. The next quadrennial review of the Child Support Guidelines is now getting underway, and the state is accepting public comments in writing or in person at town hall style meetings throughout June. Massachusetts residents should be aware that their comments can have a tremendous impact on the Task Force’s recommendations, but should bear in mind that any comment that is directed at changing a provision of the existing Guidelines should reference the specific section in the comment:
If specific changes to the Guidelines are suggested, specific sections to be changed should be referenced, new language proposed, and reasons for the proposed changes included.
On June 24, 2016, the public can appear and comment on the Guidelines at Plymouth County Probate and Family Court at:
Thursday June 23, 2016
4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Plymouth Courthouse, 52 Obery Street, Plymouth MA
This year, the state is emphasizing that the public can submit written comments via email firstname.lastname@example.org, noting that written comments will receive the same weight and consideration as oral comments, which are limited to 3 minutes apiece. There are a variety of issues that bear consideration in the new guidelines, including:
- Should the combined annual gross income limit of $250,000 set forth in Section II(C) be raised under the new guidelines?
- Where most judges are not consistently applying the requirement that child support be adjusted when one parent has between 33% and 50% of the parenting time, should the new guidelines revise Section II(D) to either revise the provision or compel greater compliance by judges?
- Should Section II(G) of the guidelines be modified so that the cost of medical insurance premiums attributable to the coverage of a minor children be presumptively shared equally between the the parties?
- Should the formula calculating base child support be modified to ensure that a parent receiving child support receives at least as much financial support as a similarly situated alimony recipient receives under the Alimony Reform Act who does not have children?
We expect the new guidelines to go into effect in August of 2017. Read the 2013 version of the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines below:
About the Author: Jason V. Owens is a Massachusetts divorce lawyer and Massachusetts family law attorney for Lynch & Owens, located in Hingham, Massachusetts.