A child’s needs are paramount when it comes to child support

For many Natick kids, getting through each day is an adventure of new experiences, appropriate challenges and opportunities for fun. They have chances to play with their friends and to bond with their parents and siblings. Though some children are burdened with stresses through their familial and educational settings, most live the relatively carefree lives that children are meant to live.

Some children, however, struggle with challenges that far exceed the normal problems American children generally face. Children afflicted with significant health and medical problems must endure the physical and mental pain of coping with their ailments in addition to the regular issues children of their age must overcome. When children afflicted with serious medical conditions split their time between two different homes, the maintenance of their medical care can become a struggle for their custodial parents.

Health care in American is expensive, and Natick parents dealing with the medical expenses of their ailing children may find that the child support payments they are receiving are insufficient to cover the bills their children’s doctors send. When a child is afflicted by a serious medical condition that imposes emotional and financial strain on his custodial parent’s life, that child may have the right to additional support from his noncustodial parent.

Massachusetts courts look at the best interests of the child in child support cases to determine if the commonwealth’s child support guidelines meet the child’s needs. When a child’s needs change due to medical treatments and doctors’ visits, more support may be warranted to provide him with the care needed to address his ailments. The Walters Law Offices can offer guidance to individuals facing this overwhelming burden. Changing child support orders is possible, and in the case of an ailing child, doing so can serve the child’s best interests.

Massachusetts mother gets child back after state takes custody

The birth of a child can raise many questions for a new mother. Whether she is raising the baby with a partner or on her own, the great responsibility that comes with caring for a new life is one that few women take lightly. Though many worry about whether they are ready for the challenges of parenthood, most are excited about the opportunity to raise their own kids.

A Massachusetts woman was denied that opportunity shortly after she gave birth. Around two years ago, the young woman, who suffers from intellectual disabilities, had a child at a hospital. Upon the child’s birth, the commonwealth’s Department of Children and Families took custody of the girl, claiming that the mother was unable to adequately care for the baby. Since DCF’s interference in this situation, the woman and her family have fought to get the child back.

Just recently the federal government stepped in to help the family. The departments of Justice and Health and Human Services, through a joint investigation, demanded that DCF return the child to her mother. Noting that parents with physical disabilities and limitations are not denied the right to raise their children, the departments found DCF’s actions discriminatory against the mother.

For its part, DCF has claimed that it took action because it believed it was in the best interests of the child to remove her from its mother’s care. However, the investigation also found that while the child was in DCF’s custody, she suffered injuries such as bruises and a black eye. The child will be returned to her mother and her family, and many who advocate for the rights of disabled parents see this as a family law victory for those who experience limitations in their lives. As shown by this unique situation, child custody matters can grow out of many circumstances and can challenge the rights of parents, government agencies and children.

Source:¬†myfoxboston.com, “Feds order baby returned after DCF takes custody due to mother’s disability,” April 28, 2015

Can a non-biological parent be required to pay child support?

Last week, this Massachusetts family law blog discussed the circumstances under which a grandparent may secure visitation or custody of his or her grandchild. In many cases, after a divorce the parents of a child share custody of that young person based on a court-approved schedule. In such arrangements, one parent is deemed the custodial parent for physical custody purposes and the other is deemed the non-custodial parent who generally has visitation rights.

Generally, a non-custodial parent is required to pay child support for the financial needs of raising a child. This is because the custodial parent expends many resources, including time, money, and energy, into the direct care of the child. Child support from the non-custodial parent can be used to balance the expenditure of resources provided by each parent.

Pursuant to the Massachusetts Court System website, a non-custodial parent can be required to pay child support. Generally, that parent must be proven to be the actual parent of the child; in some cases where paternity is not established, the first step in getting child support is determining that an individual has a parental relationship with a child. If paternity is proven, initiating a child support request can be somewhat more straightforward.

Adoption and other procedures can create paternal relationships between adults and non-biological children. For this reason, the realm of who pays child support for a youth can become somewhat murky. While paternity is often an important factor in establishing who should pay for the costs of a child, it may not be sufficient for the particular details of every unique family situation. Individuals who need further assistance with complex child support matters may utilize the services of family law attorneys to better serve the best interests of the child.

Source:¬†Massachusetts Court System, “How can I get child support for my child?” accessed April 6, 2015

Massachusetts child support guidelines can be overwritten

During their divorce, the parents of a Massachusetts child may decide to settle child support matters related to that young person’s care. Courts generally look to the Commonwealth’s child support guidelines and base their determinations on the factors included therein. However, in some cases, Massachusetts courts can go against the child support guidelines and make their own independent child support determinations, when those determinations serve the children’s best interests.

Under the general laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, there is a rebuttable presumption that, when applied correctly, the child support guidelines provide the right amount of support for a child. A parent may overcome this rebuttable presumption. Nonetheless, by showing that the support established by the guidelines is either too high or too low for the needs of the child. In those cases, a court must provide several pieces of information to make its own support decision.

First, the court must provide the amount of support that the guidelines would give to the child in question. Second, the court would have to assert that the guidelines are insufficient to address the circumstances of the particular case. Third, the court would have to offer the case-specific information that would justify overriding the guidelines’ determinations. Fourth, the court would have to show that going against the guidelines served the best interests of the child subject to the support determination.

If a court can establish these four factors, it can make its own support decision about how much financial support a child should receive. The child support guidelines are not always accommodating to the financial needs of every child or the many special circumstances that can arise when parents split while raising a child. Individuals who would like to learn more about child support and the Massachusetts support guidelines can work with family law attorneys who practice in their communities.

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