Claudette-Jean Girard, Attorney at Law
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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 non-custodial parents must pay child support

Homelessness and unemployment came into the conversation during a child support matter that may be of interest to some readers in Massachusetts. In that child support case, a man was ordered to pay his mandatory child support payment or risk a return to jail and increased penalties. This came after the man had been convicted of felony child support failure to pay and other charges.

In the child support case, the father of a child was found to owe the mother of the same child $63,000 in back child support payments. Because he had failed to pay, he was charged with a felony crime relating to the child support. When he appeared in the court, the judge ordered that he must begin to pay $1,062 each month for his child. This ruling meant that the man, who was homeless at the time of his conviction, must find a job and housing or return to jail.

This unique ruling may be surprising to some in Massachusetts. In most child support cases, judges order that back payments be repaid. When a non-custodial parent fails to pay the child support that they owe, they often face the same or similar penalties and jail time given to the man in this recent case.

Child support is mandatory once it has been ordered by the court. The payments are intended to assist custodial parents in their efforts to raise a child. When the payments are not paid, the custodial parent and child can suffer financial hardship. It is this hardship that can lead a court to make rulings that is intended to push a non-custodial parent into compliance with the court order for child support.

Source: Sturgis Journal, "Homeless dad ordered to get a job, start paying child support debt," The Daily Telegram, Nov. 30, 2012

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