In Massachusetts, child custody is determined by using the best interests of the child standard. If custody is contested, the court will often appoint a guardian ad litem to help it determine the child’s best interests. This guardian (usually a social worker or attorney) does not work for either party. Instead, he or she represents the children’s interests to the Court.
Generally, the two parties jointly pay for the cost of guardian ad litem (which can run from around $3,500 up to $10,000). After interviewing the parties, the guardian ad litem will issue a report with recommendations to the judge — a process that usually takes about 90 days.
If the guardian ad litem’s recommendation is clear, the family law judge will usually follow that recommendation. Otherwise, child custody will be decided through a trial with witnesses and testimony.
Child support payments in Massachusetts are determined by guidelines that consider the incomes of both parents and the needs of the child. However, these guidelines only apply when gross family income is below $135,000. If your income is higher, Massachusetts’ child support guidelines do not bind the court. Instead, the court will determine appropriate child support payments based upon both parents financial statements and the particular facts of the case.
Child support only goes so far. Parents also need to negotiate additional expenses not strictly contemplated under Child Support Guidelines, such as summer camp, private school, and college education. Our lawyers have the experience to guide you through the child support process.
Modification and Enforcement
Child custody and child support arrangements can be modified if your situation changes. Our lawyers can help you resolve child support issues that arise after divorce, such as denied visitation, relocation, enforcement of child support, and modification of child support payments due to job loss or significant increase in income.
If you have a child custody or support issue in Eastern or Central Massachusetts, contact our attorneys as soon as possible to discuss your rights and options. We serve families in the Greater Boston area and are conveniently located in Damonmill Square in Concord, Massachusetts.