When is child support an issue?

Whenever there is a child involved, child support can be an issue. Child support can be part of a divorce, custody-support-visitation case, guardianship and paternity case. Child support is also modifiable if there is an outstanding judgment or agreement.  For more information on Modifications (click here)


How is the amount of child support determined?

In most cases the amount of child support is determined by the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines. The new Guidelines were enacted in June 2013. The new Guidelines apply “in all cases establishing or modifying a child support order.”


What kind of issues can arise in a case involving child support?

Every case is different and the issues that can arise depend on the specific circumstances of your family but may include:

  • Legal custody
  • Physical custody
  • Visitation
  • Tax implications
  • Health insurance coverage/expenses
  • Childcare expenses
  • Educational expenses for the child
  • Extracurricular expenses for the child

For more information on Custody and Visitation (click here)


What are the Child Support Guidelines?

The Child Support Guidelines use a mathematical formula to determine the amount of weekly child support. The amount of child support depends on both of the parents’ gross incomes (before taxes), their health insurance expenses, their child care expenses and the number of children. The physical custody arrangement is a large factor determining the amount of child support.


Do the Child Support Guidelines apply to every case?

There are circumstances where Courts will deviate from the guidelines for example in high income cases and cases with special circumstances. However, the majority of cases fall under the Guidelines.


I already have an order for child support that needs to be raised or lowered, what can I do?

For more information on raising or lowering a child support order (click here).


I already have an order for child support but the other parent is not paying, what can I do?

If you have an order for child support which the other parent is not paying there are a number of enforcement options available to you. Attorney Ellis can assist you in collecting the support that is owed to you. You may be able to have the court order the other parent to pay your attorney’s fees which you incurred to collect support owed to you.


What can an Attorney Ellis do for me in a case involving support?

Attorney Ellis will explain to you in depth what your legal options are and how they apply to your case. Attorney Ellis will help you make important decisions about the case and navigate the often confusing and frustrating legal process. She will assist you in obtaining the best result possible for your particular situation. Whether at a Motion Hearing on a particular issue or at a full Trial on all the issues, Attorney Ellis will attempt to negotiate an agreement that works for you and serves the best interests of your child. If an agreement cannot be reached she will zealously argue your position in front of the Judge so a decision can be made. She will be available to answer all of your questions and concerns. She will deal with the other party or the other party’s attorney throughout the court process so you don’t have to.


What will a case involving support cost me?

Attorney Ellis offers free phone consultations where she will evaluate your particular case and what it will cost. Attorney Ellis will require a “retainer” to start the case. A retainer is a lump sum of money which is determined on a case by case basis. The retainer is held in a special client funds bank account. Funds are billed from the retainer for work that is completed on your case on a monthly basis. If the case is not completed before the retainer is exhausted, a second retainer is needed. Any money in the retainer that is not used at the completion of the case is returned to the client. The hourly rate and amount for the retainer will depend on the particular issues in the case but also depends on the number of contested issues, the complexity of issues, the contentiousness of the parties and other factors. During a free consultation, Attorney Ellis will assess your case and discuss the retainer needed to start work on the case.


What if I cannot afford a large retainer but I still need help?

In certain circumstances Limited Assistance Representation (LAR) is available. LAR is a new initiative in Probate in Family Court which allows a party to hire an attorney on a limited basis to help with a part or parts of a case. The attorney and party negotiate what part or parts of a case the party needs help with and what the cost will be. The attorney handles the part(s) the client wants them to and the client handles the rest. Often times a flat rate can be used for each part. The rate will depend on the particular issues in the case but also depends on the number of contested issues, the complexity of issues, the contentiousness of the parties and the attorney’s responsibilities. During a free consultation, Attorney Ellis will assess your case and discuss whether LAR would be available for you. For more information on LAR (click here)