A previous post on this blog talked about how, in Massachusetts, each parent's income plays an important role, perhaps the most important role, in a judge's decision about how much child support the parent who is not going to live in the home with the child will pay.
During the period of time that a child is considered a dependent of their parents they are, under the law, entitled to receive financial support for their maintenance and upbringing. Child support is derived from both parents with the noncustodial parent making payments to the custodial parent based upon an agreement or juridical order that dictates the amount and schedule that payments are to follow. Child support from one's parents may end at different points in a child's life and this post will examine some of those common events.
From time to time Massachusetts residents may read about celebrity child support orders that include payments that extend into the tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. These child support orders may seem astronomical to everyday men and women who work hard to provide for their families, but generally the amount of money that a parent will pay in child support will correspond to the amount of income that they earn.
It is important for readers of this Springfield family law blog to understand that child support determinations are made based on the specific needs of children. As such, the factual situations of a reader's case will play a huge role in the outcome of their support matter. This post only provides a general overview of Massachusetts law and how it relates to the termination of child support.
The separation of unmarried parents or the divorce of married parents can create a great deal of uncertainty in the life of a Springfield child. Though many parents who choose to end their relationships take steps to protect their kids from the emotional challenges of such events there is often no way for them to completely shelter their children from the difficulties of the process.
When a child is subject to a custody agreement or order, he or she may spend much of the time in the household of one parent. In such arrangements, that parent with whom the child primarily lives is considered the 'custodial parent' of the child, and the other parent, who may have visitation rights with the child is considered the 'noncustodial parent.' Noncustodial parents are often required to pay child support to help maintain their children's livelihoods, as they do not provide day-to-day care for them due to the custodial situation.
It is a common dream among Massachusetts parents that their children thrive during their younger years and then arrive at adulthood prepared to take care of themselves and face the challenges that come with being grown-ups. However, when some children turn eighteen they may be unable to manage the many responsibilities that befall adults in modern American society. Children who suffer from disabilities often require support when they become adults, and when those kids' parents are divorced, this can result in child support obligations that extend into the children's adulthoods.
Every state in the country has some legal mechanism to help ensure that a child is supported financially when their parents divorce or separate. Because most states have adopted a uniform set of federal child support laws, many of those systems are similar, though not necessarily identical. In Massachusetts, the family court system uses a process known as the 'child support guidelines' to determine how much money a non-custodial parent should pay to support a child. But why do these guidelines exist, and why are they the way they are?
Most parents in Massachusetts can tell you that taking care of a child is a life-long commitment. While, for most purposes, society treats people as adults when they turn 18-years-old, this does not always mean they can be completely independent at that point. This may be especially true in coming years as educational expectations continue to climb and undergraduate degrees become more and more expensive. When parents have ended their relationship with each other prior to a child's 18th birthday, there may be questions with regard to whether a non-custodial parent is to continue ordered child support payments once the child turns 18.