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How do judges decide how much child support to order?

Produced by Attorney Jeff Wolf for MassLegalHelp
Last Updated April 2018

Judges use the Child Support Guidelines to figure out how much child support to order.

The Guidelines tell judges:

  • to use the parents’ Child Support Guidelines Worksheet. The Worksheet shows the judge:
    • the amount of each parent’s income and certain expenses,
    • the number of children the order will support,
    • the ages of the children the order will support, and
    • the amount of child support to order.
  • to look at the amount of time children spend with each parent, “parenting time;”
  • how to order child support for children between 18 and 23 years old, and
  • the reasons a judge can order a different amount of child support from the amount on the Worksheet. This is a “deviation.”

Usually, the court will order the other parent to pay at least $80.00/month. In rare cases, if the other parent has very little money, the court might not order them to pay any child support at all.

If the other parent is not working, the court may order them to do job searches and to report their job search efforts to the court.



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