In Massachusetts, child support is calculated using both parents’ gross income. Generally, a parent who is already financially supporting a child is entitled to deduct the amount of support he or she pays for that child from their gross income when calculating a support order for a later child from another relationship. A reduction in gross income reduces the amount of child support that parent would otherwise be ordered to pay.
The Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines provides for three different scenarios in which a parent can qualify for such a deduction. When establishing an initial child support order or modifying an existing child support order:
- the amount actually paid by a parent pursuant to a pre-existing support order for a child or spouse not in the case under consideration shall be deducted from the gross income of that parent;
- the amount of voluntary payments actually paid to support a child not in the case under consideration and with whom the parent does not reside shall be deducted from the gross income of that parent, but only to the extent the Court determines the payments are reasonable; or
- a hypothetical amount of child support for a child with whom the parent resides but for whom no child support order exists shall be deducted from the gross income of the parent. The parent seeking the deduction must provide proof of a legal obligation to support the child and of the gross income of that child’s other parent. The hypothetical child support amount shall be calculated according to the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines Worksheet using the gross incomes of both parents of the child for whom the hypothetical child support amount is being calculated.
However, even if a parent with children from another relationship qualifies for the deduction as described above, obligations to a subsequent family may only be used as a defense to a request to increase an existing child support order. Obligations to a second family cannot be used as a reason to decrease an existing support order.
You should consider consulting with an experienced family law attorney if you or your child’s father or mother has children from another relationship to ensure you are receiving, or paying, the proper amount of support as many factors may be taken into consideration.
Article by Attorney Brian T. Salisbury
Attorney Brian Salisbury’s practice includes all aspects of divorce and family law, as well as probate and trust litigation. His family law practice includes high-net worth, complex divorces as well as child custody disputes, child support and alimony actions, paternity actions, appeals, and actions for modification and contempt. Attorney Salisbury is also a trained Mediator, Category V Parent Coordinator, and a Court appointed Category F Guardian ad Litem investigator.
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