New Child Support Guidelines effective Aug. 1
Former Chief Justice Robert A. Mulligan announced the promulgation
of revised Child Support Guidelines effective on Aug. 1, 2013,
based on a comprehensive review by the Child Support Guidelines
Task Force. The task force that conducted the review, which is
required every four years, was chaired by Chief Justice Paula M.
The Child Support Guidelines are used by trial court judges in
setting temporary, permanent or final orders for current child
support, in deciding whether to approve agreements for child
support, and in deciding cases that are before the court to modify
Key changes made to the guidelines include:
- Income from means tested benefits such as SSI, TAFDC and SNAP
are excluded for both parties from the calculation of their support
- Availability of employment at the attributed income level must
be considered in attribution of income cases.
- The text makes clear that all, some or none of the income from
secondary jobs or overtime may be considered by the court,
regardless of whether this is new income or was historically earned
prior to dissolution of the relationship.
- Reference is made to the 2011 Alimony Reform Act; the text does
not, however, provide a specific formula or approach for
calculating alimony and child support in cases where both may be
- Clarification is given as to how child support should be
allocated between the parents where their combined income exceeds
- A new formula is provided for calculating support where
parenting time and expenditures are less than equal (50/50) but
more than the assumed standard split of two thirds/one third.
- Guidance and clarification is given in the area of child
support over the age of 18 where appropriate. While the guidelines
apply, the court may consider a child's living arrangements and
post-secondary education. Contribution to post-secondary education
may be ordered after consideration of several factors set forth in
the guidelines and such contribution must be considered in setting
the weekly support order, if any.
- The standard for modification is clarified to reflect the
recent Supreme Judicial Court decision in Morales v.
Morales, 464 Mass. 507 (2013).
- Circumstances justifying a deviation are expanded to include
extraordinary health insurance expenses, child care costs that are
disproportionate to income or when a parent is providing less than
one-third parenting time.
The review process included input from the public and the bar,
and reviewed case files, economic analysis, as well as judicial and
SJC approves trial court strategic plan to launch
The Justices of the Supreme Judicial Court have announced approval
of the strategic plan developed by the Massachusetts Trial Court
and the launch of the implementation phase. The strategic plan will
guide the trial court as it works to address current and future
needs of the judiciary in serving the people of Massachusetts. It
includes a series of tactics to be implemented in stages and sets
forth transparent success measures to guide and assess the
progress. A Strategic Leadership Team has been formed to oversee
the implementation of the action plans. The overall plan was
developed with the support of the state's Division of Capital Asset
Management and Maintenance (DCAMM).
The umbrella strategies, "One Mission: Justice with Dignity and
Speed," guide the tactical plans and decision making in the areas
of governance and communications, facilities improvement, workforce
development, technology enhancements, process improvement and
innovative practices. Tactics for each of these areas are
identified in the plan. Visit www.mass.gov/courts/strategicplanning
to view the plan.
Changes to Rule 412 of the supplemental rules of the Probate
and Family Court
The changes were recommended by the Probate and Family Court
Bench/ Bar Committee on Rules, circulated for comment, approved by
then Chief Justice Paula M. Carey and approved and promulgated by
the Supreme Judicial Court.
The changes to Rule 412 allow parties to jointly request
modification of a judgment or order of the Probate and Family Court
where the parties are in agreement, the agreement is in writing,
and all other requirements of the rule are met. The changes to the
rule will allow the Probate and Family Court to handle more cases