On October 4, 2021, Massachusetts released the new 2021 Child Support Guidelines. There have been several significant changes to the Guidelines which could result in higher child support orders in many cases compared to what would have been ordered under the 2018 Child Support Guidelines.
For example, cases involving multiple children will likely see increased child support orders. Since 2013, Massachusetts had been criticized for unusually low child support orders for parents with multiple children. The 2021 Child Support Guidelines Task Force responded to the critics by substantially increasing base child support by 40% for families with two children, 68% for three children, 85% for four children and 94% for five children. This will ensure that base child support is increased for those cases involving multiple children.
Another significant change under the 2021 Guidelines will raise the application of the Guidelines to combined parental income from $250,000 to $400,000. Prior to this change, the parties’ combined income in excess of $250,000 was essentially excluded from the child support equation. The new Guidelines will now account for a combined parental income of $400,000, which represents a substantial increase and should have an impact on high-earning families. The Court will still have discretion to consider the parties’ available gross income over $400,000 to establish an appropriate child support order.
These changes should result in increased child support orders across Massachusetts and it will be interesting to see the new Guidelines be applied going forward.