Divorce Friday
Divorce Friday
An Introduction to the 2021 Child Support Guidelines in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines (CSG) are scheduled to update every four years. Although Federal regulations drive this, it is also very much needed. Because of the nature of the issue, Child Support Guidelines will always be imperfect. However, a mandated change every four years allows us to improve regularly.

Child Support is the money paid from one divorced parent to another to help in the expenses of raising a child. The amount can vary based on many factors, notably the parents’ incomes, where the child spends most of their time, and the number of children.

The last update went live on October 4, 2021. It will be valid until the next edition, probably around the second half of 2025.

In this episode of Divorce Friday, Chris and Diane host Fern Frolin, Esq, a prominent family law attorney and a member of the CSG Taskforce that developed the new guidelines. Fern has worked on the CSG Taskforce in 2012, 2016, and 2020. She has also been on the committee that helped craft the Massachusetts alimony law of 2011. Fern is an expert in Massachusetts child support. We are honored and fortunate that she agreed to speak with us at Divorce Friday.

In this introductory podcast episode to CSG, we reviewed the major changes, their basis, and potential consequences.

Among the changes, we noted that the amount owed by the paying party goes up significantly compared to the previous CSG, especially where multiple children are covered. Another dramatic change is the increase of the income subject to CSG. The combined income of up to $250,000 was considered for child support in the past. With the new rules, it is the income up to $400,000.

One of the interesting aspects of our conversations had to do with the relationship of child support to alimony. The historical practice was to consider the income in excess of the amount assessed for child support for alimony. Therefore, the increase in income considered for child support to $400,000 could mean that for many people who cannot reach that income, alimony would be effectively eliminated.

Fern made the point that it may not necessarily be the case. While child support is usually calculated first, it doesn’t have to be. For example, alimony could be calculated first instead, and then child support. In this situation, the reduction in child support could be offset by an increase in alimony.

There are many other wrinkles in child support guidelines. In this episode, we barely scratched the surface. Let us know what you think!


Child Support Guidelines, CSG