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.

 

My Advice for Divorce Month

By: Anthony C. Adamopoulos, Divorce Arbitrator, Mediator & Collaborative Lawyer

 

Divorce Month is almost here. In 2016, I saw one of the saddest, unnecessary, adversarial divorces ever. The cost in emotions, future harmony and money was enormous and unnecessary.

So again, I urge everyone who is facing divorce to consider seriously staying out of the public adversarial divorce system. It will hurt and it will hurt way into the future.

Staying out of the “system” generally means choosing one of two processes, either confidential mediation or confidential Collaborative Divorce. Take the time to read about these important confidential divorce approaches at The Three Approaches to Divorce.

If the two of you agree on only one thing, let it be that you will use confidential mediation or confidential Collaborative Divorce.

Hand in hand with the right approach is the right lawyer. Not all divorce lawyers are qualified to do divorce mediation or Collaborative Divorce. Mediation requires training and success. Collaborative Attorneys need to be certified. Believe me, this is not the time to go to your third cousin’s friend’s real estate lawyer.

 

For more information about Divorce Mediation and Collaborative Divorce:

The Three Approaches – Graphically

The Massachusetts Collaborative Law Council

The Massachusetts Council on Family Mediation

The Divorce Center

Reducing the Cost of Divorce with Limited Assistance Representation (LAR)

By: Attorney Anthony C. Adamopoulos

If you are facing divorce, you may be feeling a lot of uncertainty. If you are also having financial difficulties, you may feel more uncertainty. This post is intended to provide information and resources to help you understand a different alternative when facing divorce; an alternative that may give you more certainty.

What is Limited Assistance Representation (LAR)?

Limited Assistance Representation allows you to hire me to help you with some, but not all, of your divorce proceedings. In a written agreement, you and I outline exactly what I am expected to do.  Here are some areas in which I can help you:

  • Limited Assistance for a Court Appearance: This allows you to hire me to go with you to court and “appear” for you, one appearance at a time, for example, appear at a Pre-Trial Conference.
  • Limited Assistance for a Service: This allows you to hire me for one type of service, for example, to review a separation agreement.
  • Limited Assistance for Document Preparation:  This allows you to hire me to prepare a document to be filed with the court, for example, a Pre Trial Memorandum.
  • Limited Assistance for Help in Negotiating: This allows you and I to focus on those issues and approaches that will most likely achieve settlement.

Benefits of Limited Assistance Representation For You:

  • Limited Assistance Representation can be helpful if you have financial restrictions keeping you from hiring an attorney for the entire divorce process. With Limited Assistance, you only pay for the services you need.
  • Limited Assistance Representation allows you to hire an attorney for “game changing” events such as the Pre-Trial Conference with the judge when an attorney’s experience can make a difference in the outcome of the Conference.

Is Limited Assistance Representation Appropriate For You?

  • Limited Assistance Representation is appropriate when you do not wish to represent yourself and cannot hire an attorney for the entire case, but you still need representation for a specific matter.
  • Limited Assistance Representation is appropriate when you feel comfortable taking on certain responsibilities, for example, the preparation of the Financial Statement and the gathering, organizing and producing of financial records.
  • Limited Assistance Representation is appropriate for an existing court matter or a matter soon to be filed with the court.

Important Considerations:

  •  Under the law people who represent themselves are not entitled to special considerations or leniency. This is important because many people believe that if they represent themselves the judge must “go easy” on them.

 

MORE INFORMATION: