Claudette-Jean Girard, Attorney at Law
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Family Law Attorney

I provide experienced legal guidance in family law, divorce and special education law. I represent parents and families throughout western Massachusetts.

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Massachusetts child support a separate issue from visitation

Parents in Massachusetts likely want to work hard to make sure that all decisions made during divorce are made in the best interests of their children. Among these determinations are child support and child custody arrangements. After the divorce, if there are issues in the living arrangements of a child or the payment of support, it can leave the custodial parent in a quandary about how to rectify the situation and stay on track.

In child support situations, it can be tempting for a Massachusetts custodial parent to limit the visitation time with a child if their ex-spouse fails to pay child support as ordered by the court. This may not be the best idea, one authority notes. Such actions may hurt the children because they lose important interaction time with one of their parents. In addition, they may be made to feel that they are in the middle of the dispute between their parents.

When a non-custodial parent fails to pay child support there may be ways for the family to work together, such as a barter system. Bartering could allow a non-paying parent to repair a home or car in exchange for the child support payment in some situations. As many in our state can imagine, this can only work if the spouses are able to negotiate a barter agreement and if there are good reasons why the child support is not being paid such as loss of income, illness, or other disaster.

It is important to note that even with a barter system, the amount owed in child support cannot be altered without court order. While the barter for child support may benefit the kids and make the financial difficulties easier than if there were no assistance, it does not change without modification by a court. This means that legally, child support money will still be owed.

When situations change and it becomes difficult for a parent to meet child support obligations, both parents should consider working together to see what legal options are available. It may be possible to get the child support agreement modified, but the process can be complicated. In order to do this, it may benefit parents to seek the assistance of someone experienced in working through these types of cases.

Source:, "Ex-Etiquette: Child support and visitation should be separate," Jann Blackstone, Aug. 13, 2012

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