How to Calculate Child Support Payments in Massachusetts

Learn how to calculate child support in Massachusetts, when the amount of support may be different than what’s calculated under the state’s guidelines, and how to apply for, collect, and modify child support.

By , Legal Editor

How to Use the Massachusetts Child Support Worksheet

Unlike many other states, Massachusetts does not provide an official, online calculator for child support. But the state does provide a Child Support Guidelines Worksheet (in a fillable PDF) that you can use to calculate your basic support obligation, based on the current Massachusetts child support guidelines.

You'll need to have some information on hand before doing the calculations, including both parents' income, what your physical custody (parenting time) arrangements will be, and certain expenses for the child (health insurance, extraordinary medical expenses, and work-related child care). If you're still negotiating issues like custody and alimony, you might try multiple calculations under different scenarios.

When Child Support May Be Different the Guideline Calculation

The amount of child support calculated under the Massachusetts guidelines won't necessarily apply in every situation. The state presumes that's the appropriate amount. But you may argue that a different amount would be appropriate in your situation. Whether you and the child's other parent have agreed on a support amount that departs from the guideline or a judge makes that decision for you, the judge will have to find that the guideline amount would be unjust or inappropriate and that a different amount would be in the child's best interests. Learn more about how child support works in Massachusetts, including factors the judge must consider when deviating from the guidelines. (Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 208, § 28 (2024).)

Applying for Child Support in Massachusetts

Typically, you'll apply for child support as part of the process of filing for divorce in Massachusetts. You'll include your completed Child Support Guidelines Worksheet along with the other divorce papers.

If you aren't married to your child's other parent, you may get help with requesting support by applying for child support services with the Massachusetts Child Support Services Division in the Department of Revenue (DOR). If needed, the DOR can also help with establishing the child's legal parentage.

How to Collect Child Support in Massachusetts

All child support payments will go through the DOR, which forwards the money to the recipient parents, either through a direct deposit or a debit card.

If you're having trouble collecting support payments, you can request help from the DOR by applying for services or logging onto your case manager. Depending on how much the other parent owes, the agency has several ways of enforcing child support, including increasing the amount taken out of the parent's paychecks, intercepting income tax refunds and other government payments, seizing money from bank accounts, placing liens on property (so the delinquent parent can't sell it or borrow money before paying off the debt), and suspending the parent's driver's or other licenses.

How to Change the Amount of Child Support

Either parent may request a modification in the amount of child support in Massachusetts. Generally, you'll need to demonstrate that there has been a significant change in circumstances, unless there's an inconsistency between the current amount and what would result from the guideline calculation, or there's a need to provide health care coverage for the child. The rules may vary depending on how long it's been since your existing order was issued. (Mass. Gen. Laws, ch. 208, § 28 (2024).)

Unless you and your parent can agree on a change to your existing child support order, you may need a lawyer's help to get a modification from the court. However, if the DOR is already providing services to collect and enforce your child support order, you may ask the agency for help with a modification request.

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