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Modify Massachusetts Child Support

The Massachusetts Probate and Family Court has continuing jurisdiction over child related matters. This includes child support. A court order that was issued during the Complaint for Divorce may need to be modified. Some of the reasons that a parent may need to modify the child support order are a change in employment status, increased wages or a change in child care or insurance expenses. How is the order actually modified?

The first step to modify a child support order is to file a Complaint for Modification. It is important to file the complaint for modification as soon as a parent believes a change in child support is warranted because any court order modifying the child support order is retroactive only to the date the complaint is filed.

The standard for modifying a child support order is a material change in circumstances. Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 208 Section 28 provides the legal standard. Additionally, the following two cases have helped define the statute:

  • Ardizoni v. Raymond, 40 Mass.App.Ct. 734 (1996) : The standard for modification of child custody/visitation is a material and substantial change of circumstances since the prior judgment was entered and the desired change of child custody/visitation is in the child’s best interest.
  • Cabot v. Cabot, 55 Mass.App.Ct. 756 (2002) : If an incorporated separation agreement or a divorce judgment fails to provide for a child’s education, a modification complaint may be brought on the ground that the educational costs are a material and substantial change of circumstances.

If you are unsure if a change in your situation is a material change in circumstances, then the first step is to see if the change results in a significant change in child support. You can use the child support guidelines located on the Court Forms page to determine the change in Massachusetts Child Support. If there is a significant change, then you will want to file a Complaint for Modification. If you are not sure if your situation warrants a modification, then contact a masstachusetts divorce and family law attorney