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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How is income determined in Massachusetts child support?

Massachusetts parents know how difficult it can be to make decisions regarding a child. Sometimes, parents do not always see eye to eye when it comes to these matters, especially during a divorce. In divorce, matters such as child custody and child support can prove contentious. In many cases, one parent is awarded physical custody of the child and the other parent is ordered to pay child support. Once this is established, it then becomes necessary to determine the parents' incomes.

One of the ways that courts decide on the amount owed in child support is by looking at the earnings of, and assets owned, by each of the parents. In fact, child support is "income driven," meaning the income of the parents is the primary factor courts take into consideration when determining child support. The court will look at the non-custodial parent's gross income when calculating the amount owed.

A gross income is not just the salaries and wages that the parent earns. In addition to this income, there are also smaller assets that the court may take into consideration when making a child support decision. This can include annuities, pension income, veterans' benefits, Social Security benefits, trust or estate income and the like. What's more, any income from a second job income or any gifts or prizes received may also be counted in a non-custodial parent's gross income.

As becomes apparent, there are many complexities involved in child support cases. These complexities may seem overwhelming to parents. Thankfully, attorneys are available to help deal with many of these issues. With an attorney, it is often possible to prepare a strong strategy that can help parents successfully reach their child support goals.

Source: FindLaw, "Child support: determining parents' income," accessed on February 16, 2016

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