Understanding
Massachusetts Child Support Laws

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Massachusetts Child Support was established in 1975 to help custodial parents gain the financial and medical support from the non-custodial parents needed to take care of the child at hand.

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Every child has the legal right to receive financial support from his or her parents, whether the parents are separated, divorced or were never married. Child support keeps many families from needing public assistance. Together with the wages of the custodial parent, child support can make it a little easier to financially and medically take care of a child. Child support can mean a better life for your child.


Receiving Child Support

Custodial parents receiving public assistance or custodial parents, who along with children receiving Medicaid services will be required to pursue Massachusetts Child Support Services through the local county prosecutor's office. Parents who do not receive public assistance or Medicaid are also eligible to receive these services as well. If you need assistance with child support or paternity establishment there is a one-time fee of $25.00 required to start child support efforts for families not receiving public assistance. There is no fee charged to families who receive public assistance or Medicaid.


How to Establish Fatherhood Legally

The first step in collecting child support is establishing paternity. When legal paternity is established, a child has the right to the father's:


  • Social Security benefits
  • Veteran’s benefits
  • Medical coverage
  • Pensions
  • Inheritance



Massachusetts Child Support law makes it possible for both parents to sign a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity form in the hospital. Signing this form stops the court process and could save you thousands of dollars in lawyer and court fees. Parents who do not sign the voluntary acknowledgment of paternity form at the hospital may sign it later at any local registrar of vital records, county clerk's office, local Department of Human Services office or child support enforcement office. DNA tests are used when an alleged father is in doubt about being the father or whenever paternity is contested. Paternity can be established by default when an alleged father fails to attend a scheduled interview or to go for a scheduled genetic test and has been properly served with a notice to appear. Paternity can be established in court using the standard judicial process for persons not receiving services from the Division of Child Support Enforcement or for alleged fathers of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families clients when they request it.


Terms you need to know


Support Arrears

The arrearage accrues when a portion of or all of the current support ordered to be paid under a court or administrative support order is past-due.


Income Withholding

Child support information on withholding from an obligor's income for the purposes of paying a support obligation. "Income" means any form of monetary payment, including personal earnings; workers' compensation payments; unemployment compensation benefits; pensions; annuities; allowances; private or governmental retirement benefits; disability or sick pay; insurance proceeds; lottery prize awards; federal, state or local government benefits to the extent that the benefits can be withheld or deducted under the law governing the benefits; any form of trust fund or endowment; lump-sum payments; and any other payment in money.


Non-Custodial Parent

The parent who does not have legal custody of the child and who is responsible for payment of child support. Also referred to as non-residential parent or obligor.


Alleged Father

A person who has been named as the father of a child born out of wedlock, but for whom paternity has not been legally established.


Modifying your Child Support Order

You must request for re-modification and they will file it with the court. They will also give a copy to the other parent and schedule a court hearing. This process can take some time. The court will require some sort of evidence about a parent's ability to pay. Their staff will appear at the court hearing and provide the court with any information they have about the income and assets of both parents. Massachusetts Child Support Enforcement Agencies goal is to ensure that the child support order is consistent with the parents' ability to pay and is within the Child Support Guidelines.


NOTE : The court may increase or decrease your child support order or may decide to make no change at all.


Reasons for Modifying your Child Support Order

  • Non-custodial parent’s income substantially increased.
  • Non-custodial parent’s income substantially decreased.
  • Health care coverage for the child has changed.
  • Non-custodial parent now has custody of the child.


Voluntary Termination of Child Support Services

If you want to close your case with Massachusetts Child Support Enforcement Agency, known as "opting-out," you must complete and return the Request for Voluntary Termination of DOR Services.

Be aware of the following before you complete and return the Voluntary Termination of Services. form.


If the noncustodial parent pays his or her child support by wage withholding:

The noncustodial parent's employer will continue to deduct child support from the noncustodial parent's paycheck and send it to child support. They will continue to forward the child support to you. Collecting and distributing the child support payments will be the only services child support provides. Massachusetts Child Support Agency will not provide any enforcement services, or keep track of the noncustodial parent's employer, and will not maintain records of how much past-due support is owed to you.


If the noncustodial parent does not use wage withholding to pay child support:

Your child support payments may come to DOR for processing if the court orders payment through DOR or if the noncustodial parent's employer chooses to send your child support payments to DOR rather than to you. Before you ask child support to stop providing support services, please read below:


Note:

Allow Massachusetts Child Support Agency at least 6 weeks from the time that they receive your signed Request for Voluntary Termination of child support Services to complete the process. Until that time, they will continue to collect and enforce child support on your behalf.


Voluntary Termination of Services

Massachusetts Child Support will not use enforcement measures to collect your past-due child support. If past-due child support is owed to you, you will not be eligible for DOR services to enforce collection -- including tax refund intercept, increase of income withholding by 25%; intercept of lottery winnings, lien, levy or seizure of bank accounts, insurance policies, trust funds and Workers' Compensation settlements, suspension or revocation of driver's and professional licenses and seizure and sale of other real and personal property.

Massachusetts Child Support will release all liens that it has recorded against the noncustodial parent's property to enforce collection of past-due support owed to you.

Massachusetts Child Support will no longer assist you if the noncustodial parent asks the court to decrease the amount of the child support order.

Massachusetts Child Support will not track changes in the noncustodial parent's employment. If child support is being paid by wage withholding and the noncustodial parent changes jobs.


Enforcement of Child Support

Massachusetts Child Support sends an Annual Notice of Child Support Delinquency to parents who owe past-due child support. This notice informs the parent of the total amount due, including interest and penalties, for all of the parent’s cases being enforced by child support. The notice describes all of the enforcement remedies Massachusetts Child Support may use to collect the debt, and notifies the parent of the right to request a review of the debt. The notice is issued each year on the anniversary date of the first notice, until the past-due support is paid in full. The following below are enforcement tools used to collect child support owed to the custodial parent.

  • Income Withholding Order
  • State Tax Refund Intercept
  • Unemployment Compensation Intercept
  • Passport Denial
  • Federal Tax Refund Intercept
  • License Suspension
  • Credit Reporting
  • Public Pension Intercept
  • Pension Intercept
  • Administrative Increase of Support Obligation
  • Bank Levy


Contact Information

Massachusetts Child Support Enforcement Department of Revenue
P.O. Box 9561
Boston, MA. 02114-9561
614-877-7540 fax
1-800--332-2733 customer service

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