In a divorce, one parent may be ordered by the court to pay child support. Under Massachusetts law, both parents are required to support their children—and this is true regardless of marital status (whether the parents are married, divorced, separated, or were never married). The parent the child lives with is termed the custodial parent. The noncustodial parent may be required to pay child support.
Child support is complicated, but there are several things you should know.
Child support may be used to pay for housing, food, clothing, education, and insurance and medical costs; and although the paying parent often wants to know how the recipient parent is spending the child support, the Court only rarely would consider such inquiry.
If one parent has obtained a Court order for child support and the other parent is not paying it, payment can be compelled. The procedure is to file a Complaint for Contempt with the Court. The non-paying parent could be found to be in contempt, and be subjected to penalties.
Among the penalties of being found in contempt are to pay the amount owed, called arrearages, in full, to make regular payments of the arrearages plus the ordered child support, and in some cases to serve a jail term.
If the defendant is unemployed and unable to pay the required support, but is not disabled, the Court has to power to order a job search, job training, and community service through the Court’s Probation Department. Proof of compliance must be furnished to the Probation Department.
If the paying parent is found guilty of contempt, the Court can order him or her to pay some or all of the reasonable attorney’s fees and expenses to the parent who filed the Complaint for Contempt.
If you are dealing with a child support issue, it is best to have an experienced family law attorney on your side to help you navigate the complicated process. Call us to speak with a family law attorney about your child support case.