Massachusetts Child Support Law

In the event of 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 a majority of the time is termed the primary custodial parent. The noncustodial parent may be required to pay child support.

Massachusetts child support law is complicated, but there are several things you should know.

One, child support may be used to pay for housing, food, clothing, education, and insurance and medical costs.

Two, if one parent has received an 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. This means that, if the other parent does not obey the child support order, he or she can be held in contempt and is subject to penalties. [Continue reading]

Massachusetts Family Law and the Divorce Process

Massachusetts family law covers the divorce process, which begins when one of the spouses actually files a legal petition, or “complaint,” which advises the court he, or she, wishes to end the marriage, and this petition is  “served” on the other spouse.

Legal requirements for divorce in Massachusetts (MA) can be found in Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 208, sections 1-5 and 21, and include “residency requirements,” such as:

  • “Spouses must have lived together in MA as husband and wife,”
  • The plaintiff (the person petitioning) “must have lived in MA at least one year,
  • The actions/inactions that have brought about this divorce action must have occurred in MA, and
  • If the causal actions/inactions happened in another state, the spouses must have “lived together in MA,” and at least one spouse has to be an MA resident.

Because Massachusetts is a state which allows “no-fault” divorce, the petitioner (plaintiff) must merely attest that there has been “an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.” In other words, the plaintiff believes there is “no chance of reconciliation.”  Other “grounds for divorce” are: 1) adultery, 2) the spouse has been away from the household for one year (desertion), 3) drug and alcohol problems, 4) inability to conceive, 5) nonsupport, 6) being sentenced to prison “for at least 5 years” after a criminal conviction, and 7) a long absence (leading to “presumption of death”). [Continue reading]

Establishing Paternity in Massachusetts

When a child is born to two married parents, they are placed on the child's birth certificate. However, when parents are unmarried, paternity must be legally established in order for the non-birth parent to appear on the child's birth certificate and … [Continue reading]

Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act

Many parents-to-be wonder just how much time from work they can take off when their child is born. Effective April 7, 2015, under Massachusetts law, men and women will both be covered under the Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act (MMLA), which makes … [Continue reading]

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Grandparent’s Visitation Rights

Child custody disputes don't only affect parents and children. They can have a major effect on grandparents too. Grandparents whose grandchildren are caught up in custody disputes can feel like they are at the mercy of often uncooperative parents … [Continue reading]