Experienced Shrewsbury Child Support Attorney
Usually, the most contested issue in a divorce and subsequent modifications is custody of the children, and any corresponding child support. Once the basic premises are broken down, however, it becomes much easier to see what the realistic options are, and what factors the Judge will look to when making a custody and child support determination.
There are two types of custody: Physical custody and Legal custody.
Physical custody pertains to where the child resides for the majority of the time. Historically, physical custody was awarded to mothers, who were traditionally the stay-at-home parent. Today, however, it is more and more and common for both parents to spend equal time outside of the home and to share in all caregiving for the children. As such, it is important to look closely at both parents' contributions to the child's needs as well as what will be in the child's best interests moving forward.
For the most part, a Judge will not alter the designation of a child's primary physical custodian, unless the parties agree to a different custodial arrangement or there are circumstances which show that a change would be in the child's best interest.
Legal custody pertains to major decisions concerning the child, such as medical decisions, religious observance, and the choice of educational institutions. Generally, both parents maintain joint legal custody following a divorce, as it is presumed that they should both have an equal say in major decisions regarding their child. However, in circumstances where parents cannot effectively communicate regarding their child's well-being, or where there are restraining orders in place, sole legal custody may be granted to the parent maintaining physical custody.
Dedicated Westborough, MA Child Support Attorney
Per statute, every parent is obligated to provide financially for their child, regardless of whether they obtain custody or even maintain a relationship with their child. Child support is calculated according to the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines, which were modified January 1, 2009. Only in select circumstances will the Judge deviate from these guidelines, which are designed to provide support to the custodial parent for the benefit of the child, while giving credit to the parent paying child support for any health insurance costs, other child support orders, and child care costs. For a link to the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines, please click here. In situations where both parents share physical custody, the guidelines are run "against" each other, as if each parent were the primary custodial parent.
Child support is always modifiable if there is a material change in circumstances, such as loss of employment, increase or decrease in salary, commencement of higher education, termination of alimony, or incarceration. It is also modifiable every three years, without the need for a change in circumstance. To discuss a possible modification in your child support order, contact the Law Office of Leila J. Wons. We offer evening and weekend appointments for your convenience.
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We can help with any family law issue - from alimony to paternity. Please call 508-986-9406 or send our lawyer an e-mail to schedule an initial appointment.