The “New” Child Support Guidelines – Effective September 15, 2017

The new Child Support Guidelines (CSG) go into effect on September 15th. Here, in outline form, is a summary of the primary CSG Factors.

Child Support Guidelines Factors:

Important factors considered in making an order for child support (CS) include the following:

Alimony and unallocated support

An order, if based on relevant tax consequences presented by a party, may designate money for support of a child to be alimony or unallocated support. p8 (This refers to the relevant page in the 2017 CSG.) However, gross income considered for a child support order cannot be considered for an alimony order.p9

The first $250,000.00

The CSG calculations apply to combined incomes of up to $250,000.00. The CSG calculation for the combined $250,000.00 should normally be the presumed minimum order. Support over this amount is discretionary.p9   The court may consider the excess in setting an order for the payment of extra-curricular activities, private school, summer camp, etc.p14 and for post- secondary school costs and orders in excess of the UMass minimum (See below.).

Parenting Time

The CSG calculations are based on the child(ren) having a primary residence with one parent and spending approximately 1/3 of their time with the other parent. There is a rebuttable presumption that the resulting calculation shall be the order.p9

Where parents share equally or approximately equal financial responsibility and parenting time, then a special calculation is done.p10

If the non-residential parent’s parenting time is substantially less than 1/3 of the child’s time, then the court may deviate upwards in the support order.

Child Care and Health Care Costs

In most cases, the Guidelines’ worksheet will automatically adjust for these costs.

Children 18 or over

First, 18 year olds still in high school are considered not yet 18. After leaving high school, child support is discretionary with the court.p10   It is not presumed.

In deciding whether to order child support, the court will consider all relevant factors, including those listed in the Guidelines.p11   One consideration will be whether or not the child is in a post-secondary educational program, if so, the judge will consider the costs involved (see below) and then consider the impact of an order for child support and an order for education costs.

Contribution to post high school costs

 Orders for contribution toward post high school education costs are discretionary – it is not presumed.p11  The judge will consider all relevant factors surrounding college or vocational costs and the impact of both a child support order and an education contribution order.

If an order of contribution is made, it cannot exceed, for each parent, 50% of the undergraduate, in state, costs for a UMass-Amherst student; unless the court makes findings that a parent can afford to pay more.

You can read the Guidelines yourself at The New Child Support Guidelines.

 

Saving $$$$ When Facing Divorce — Financial Statements

looking-to-save

By Anthony C. Adamopoulos

In my over 25 years of helping people facing divorce, I have seen, in almost every divorce, a reoccurring client decision that results in wasting hundreds, and sometimes, thousands of dollars.

What is that decision? The decision not to read and follow the court’s instructions on how to complete the court’s Financial Statement.

In all divorce cases, the most important document is the Probate and Family Court Financial Statement.

In an “uncontested” divorce, the judge reads the Financial Statement to help her or him decide if she or he will approve the parties’ Separation Agreement.  I have seen judges, or their clerks, refuse to let uncontested divorce cases be approved because Financial Statements did not conform to the court’s instructions.

In contested cases, the Financial Statement helps the judge determine many issues, for example, the standard of living of a party, the needs of a party, and the honesty of a party.

In my office, and the offices of many attorneys I know, we do not complete client Financial Statements. No client of mine can ever say, “I do not know where that number came from, my attorney completed the Financial Statement.” Clients must complete their own Financial Statements.

The Probate and Family Court Instructions for Financial Statements can be found by going to my web site DivorcingOptions.com, then to RESOURCES, then to Long Form Instructions or Short Form Instructions.

There are about 13 to 15 paragraphs of instruction.

The instructions for both forms are accompanied by a self-calculating form for the user’s convenience.

Here is a list of the most ignored instructions:

  1. Fill in your name and address;
  2. Answer every question;
  3. If an answer to a question is 0 or none, enter 0 or none;
  4. All income and expenses are to be reported in weekly amounts with monthly figures being divided by 4.3;
  5. List all assets and present value.

Since the Family Court wants its instructions followed, my paralegal or I must point out what needs to be changed, in a client’s draft Statement, to comply with the court’s instructions.

Because clients are paying for time, the amount of errors and the amount of resistance (Yes, some clients resist the court’s instructions under the misbelief that the court will make an exception in their case.) can result in legal fees that are avoidable.

The take away:

The court’s instructions are few and clear. Taking the time to follow them can save you $$$$.