One of the hardest parts of divorcing for parents with children is determining where shared children will live and what the responsibility of the other parent will be. In addition to child custody, the court will also issue a judgment for child support. Here’s what you should know about how child support is calculated in Massachusetts and what happens when one parent is unemployed. To learn more, call the Law Office of Heather M. Ward today. 

When Child Support Is Part of a Court Order

Child support is almost always part of a court order when parents are separating and the child will no longer be living with both parents full time. The court in Massachusetts holds that both parents have a legal obligation to support their child financially. The court will assume that the primary custodial parent is satisfying this obligation by virtue of being the primary custodian; therefore, the non-custodial parent will be ordered to make recurring child support payments. 

Child Support Guidelines in Massachusetts

Child support in our state is calculated based on Child Support Guidelines. The child support guidelines consider both parents’ income, and then use a mathematical formula to determine the support obligation based on the gross weekly income of each parent and the number of children for whom support is being provided. The court may also consider other things, such as healthcare coverage for the child, child care costs, parenting time, and any separate maintenance payments. 

Attributing or Imputing Income to an Unemployed Parent

Because child support amounts are based on the income of one parent, if one parent is unemployed and does not have an income, then the child support amount may be lower than it would be otherwise. This can be very frustrating for an employed parent who was expecting a higher payment. When this is the case, income may be attributed or imputed to the unemployed parent.

  • Imputation of income. Imputation of income occurs when the court finds that a parent has unreported income. When this occurs, the court may adjust the party’s income amount upward. 
  • Attribution of income. Attribution of income is similar to imputation of income, only it specifically refers to situations when the court makes a finding that a party is capable of work despite being unemployed. If the court finds that a party is making less than they reasonably could, the court will consider earning potential rather than actual earnings in making its child support determination. 

Get Help with Your Child Support Case

If you are seeking child support or are involved in a child support case, it’s important to have an attorney by your side. Not only will an attorney explain how child support is calculated, but your attorney can also bring in experts to uncover hidden assets and make a case for earning potential. At the Law Office of Heather M. Ward, our family law and child support attorney is passionate about helping you. Call our law office today at (617) 903-8955 or send us a message online to get started.