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Massachusetts Uncontested Divorce: The Best Divorce Money Can Buy

An Agreement in Principle

In Massachusetts, if a married couple seeks a divorce and the couple have come to an “agreement in principle” then they may obtain a Massachusetts uncontested divorce. In a Massachusetts uncontested divorce, unlike a contested divorce, the parties agree to the disposition of all assets and liabilities, as well as child support and alimony, when they file their Massachusetts divorce complaint. If any of these issues remain unresolved, then a Massachusetts contested divorce is warranted and the parties cannot file an uncontested Massachusetts divorce.

What is an “Agreement in Principle?”

An “agreement in principle” simply means that the parties have come to an agreement with respect to all the major issues of their divorce. This includes the division of both assets and liabilities, as well as agreements with respect to child support, child custody and alimony. If there are any disagreements on ANY of these issues, then the parties cannot obtain a Massachusetts uncontested divorce.

Retain An Attorney to Put the Verbal Agreement in Writing

The parties do not need to have anything in writing. The parties may retain an attorney to assist in drafting the party’s entire Separation Agreement. After the Massachusetts Divorce Agreement is put into writing, each party will have the opportunity to have the Separation Agreement reviewed by their own attorney, if desired.

No Attorneys Required, but it’s Helpful

However, there is no requirement that either party or both parties have counsel. It is necessary, however, that there is transparency, honesty, and that both parties understand exactly what they are agreeing to and signing. There is good faith from both parties in an uncontested Massachusetts Divorce.

It is suggested that at least one petitioner in a Massachusetts Uncontested Divorce obtain an attorney, as there is an enormous amount of paperwork to complete, and the process can be complicated for pro se litigants.

Attorney Anthony Rao has handled hundreds of Massachusetts Uncontested Divorces and is available at 617-953-0836 or via email at to discuss your questions regarding a Massachusetts Uncontesed Divorce. Our law firm provides flat-fee uncontested divorce packages for most Massachusetts uncontested divorces. Ask Attorney Rao how that works.

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2021 Massachusetts Child Support Worksheet: A Tool to Calculate Child Support in Massachusetts as of October 4, 2021

The Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines are used by the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court to determine the amount of child support paid to the custodial parent from the noncustodial parent for the support and maintenance of the child. The guidelines are updated and reviewed by the Massachusetts Trial Court every four years to make appropriate adjustments based on numerous factors.

The quadrennial review by the Massachusetts Trial Court has been completed, and the new Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines are now to be used in all child support cases in Massachusetts. The new Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines take effect on October 4, 2021.

Preamble of the 2021 Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines

“These child support guidelines shall take effect on October 4, 2021, and shall be applied to all child support orders and judgments entered as of October 4, 2021. In recognition of the priority of the interests of the children of the Commonwealth, these guidelines are formulated to be used by all of the justices of the Trial Court. There shall be a rebuttable presumption that these guidelines apply in all cases establishing or modifying a child support order, regardless of whether the parents of the child are married or unmarried, the order is temporary or final, or the Court is deciding whether to approve an agreement for child support. There shall also be a rebuttable presumption that the amount of the child support order calculated under these guidelines is the appropriate amount of child support to be ordered. These guidelines are based on various considerations, including, but not limited to, each parent’s earnings, income, and other evidence of ability to pay. These guidelines are intended to be of assistance to attorneys and to parties in determining what level of payment would be expected given the relative income levels of the parties. In all cases where an order for child support may be established or modified, a guidelines worksheet must be filled out, regardless of the income of the parties.”

The Preamble to the 2021 Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines

2021 Massachusetts Child Support Calculator: A Tool to Determine the Amount of Child Support in Massachusetts

The actual 2021 Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines are a substantive, twenty-six page document that provides litigants, judges and attorneys a detailed overview of the child support law in Massachusetts. However, Massachusetts child support orders are actually calculated by using the “2021 Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines Worksheet.”

The Worksheet provides the parties with the child support order that is recommend by the 2021 Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines. The number that the worksheet produces is a “rebuttable presumption.” Meaning, the child support judge is presumed to order the Worksheet amount, but this presumption can be rebutted by numerous factors.

About the Author: Attorney Anthony Rao, Esq. is a practicing attorney in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and was admitted to the practice of law in 2006. As a former Child Support Enforcement Attorney for the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, Attorney Rao has handled thousands of Massachusetts Child Support Cases, and is available to discuss the 2021 Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines and the 2021 Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines Worksheet. He may be reached at 617-953-0836, or at

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The Uncontested Divorce: A Guide to the Massachusetts Uncontested Divorce Process

Uncontested Divorces: The Best Way To End The Unhappy Marriage

Over half of all marriages in the United States end in divorce. Divorces are usually acrimonious and extremely litigious. In Massachusetts, as an example, it is not uncommon for divorcing spouses to obtain divorce lawyers, as both spouses prepare for a long-fought court battle. Indeed, a contested divorce in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts often times will last years, and will cost both former spouses tens of thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees.

However, although uncommon, there is a small-percentage of divorcing spouses that have an amicable relationship. The marriage did not work out. But nonetheless, the spouses have an agreement with respect to their finances, their children, and their property. Both spouses are ready to accept and to move forward.

An uncontested divorce in Massachusetts is the most expeditious and cost efficient way of obtaining a divorce in Massachusetts, and while an uncontested divorce in Massachusetts requires voluminous amounts of paperwork, the expense and the toll the divorce takes on the parties and their children is exceedingly less than a hotly-contested divorce.

Below, we briefly go through the documents that are required for a Massachusetts uncontested divorce and explain each document and its importance.

The Massachusetts Uncontested Divorce: An Agreement Is Just The Beginning 

Divorce/Separation Agreement.  Obviously, out of all of the documents that are necessary to start an uncontested Massachusetts Divorce, the most important document is the Divorce Agreement.  This document must totally and completely resolve all matters that relate to the parties’ marriage.  This includes a parenting schedule, a child support order, division of all assets and debts, alimony (if applicable), health insurance, life insurance, retirement plans, taxes, etc.  This list is not meant to be exhaustive.  Each case is different and you may have issues or concerns in your divorce that may not exist in another divorce case.  You must be careful with this document.  It is binding upon you, your spouse, and your children for a very, very long time.  If at all possible, I would strongly recommend retaining an attorney to assist in the entirety of this process, but if that is not practical, I would at least recommend that each party retain an attorney to independently review the Divorce Agreement between the parties.

Financial Statements of Both Parties.  In an uncontested Massachusetts Divorce, the parties are required to file financial statements.  The “Massachusetts Divorce Financial Statement Form” is created by the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court and there are numerous forms to complete, dependent upon your financial circumstances.  For example, every individual must complete the “Massachusetts Financial Statement Form,” however, there are two separate forms to use dependent upon your gross income.  If you earn less than $75,000.00 per year, you may file the “Short Form Financial Statement.”  If, however, you earn more than $75,000.00 per year, you must file a “Long Form Financial Statement.”  This form, unlike the Short Form, must be notarized by a Notary Public.

Financial Statement Schedule A.  Now more than ever, we are an economy of small business owners.  Accordingly, if you are self-employed in Massachusetts you must file a “Financial Statement Schedule A,” along with your Short or Long Form Financial Statement.  This form gives the court a snapshot of your monthly expenses, revenues, etc., and is a vital tool in providing the court with a complete picture of your small business’s financial circumstances.

Financial Statement Schedule B.  If you own rental property and obtain income from said property, you must also complete “Financial Statement Schedule B.”  This form is used to provide the court and the other party with a snapshot of your annual rental incomes and expenses.  It is imperative that the information provided in this form is correct and up-to-date.

2021 Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines Worksheet (If the parties have children).  It is imperative that the court insures that any child involved in a divorce proceeding are financially supported by both parents.  To that end, the “2021 Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines Worksheet” must be completed and filed with the Massachusetts Uncontested Divorce Packet.

Further, it is imperative the parties understand that the weekly child support figure the guidelines suggest is the child support figure the court will impose upon the parties.  However, the parties may agree to a higher or lower amount, but the parties must have articulable reasons as to why the order that deviates from the amount suggested by the “Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines.”  (“She doesn’t want that much” is not a valid reason, fyi).  

Certificate of Absolute Divorce or Annulment.  The “Certificate of Absolute Divorce or Annulment” is required at the outset of a Massachusetts Uncontested Divorce.  This form asks for basic information regarding your marriage, such as how long the marriage was, how many children were born of the marriage, etc.

Certified Copy of Your Marriage Certificate.  The Massachusetts Probate and Family Court requires that the parties file a certified copy of your marriage certificate upon the commencement of an uncontested Massachusetts Divorce.  A certified copy of your marriage certificate is available in the city or town where you were married, or you may obtain a certified copy of your marriage certificate online here.

Joint Petition for Divorce.  The Massachusetts Family and Probate Court requires that the parties file ONE Joint Petition for Divorce.  This is a straight-forward document that each party must sign.  The Joint Petition for Divorce provides the court with the necessary information and the necessary request by both parties that their marriage be dissolved.

Affidavit Disclosing Care or Custody Proceedings.  Each party must complete their own “Affidavit Disclosing Care or Custody Proceedings.”  This document certifies to the court that there are no current or closed custody cases involving the parties children.  Each party is required to file their own document and each party is required to sign the affidavit under the pains and penalties of perjury.

Massachusetts Uncontested Divorce:  The Uncontested Divorce Hearing 

After the filing of the Joint Petition or a Divorce, and all the attached documents, the court will schedule the matter for an uncontested divorce hearing.  

The uncontested divorce hearing itself is very brief. The court will review the parties’ divorce agreement to insure the agreement is fair and reasonable, and that there have been adequate provisions for each party and for the parties’ children.  After the court has reviewed the Divorce Agreement, the parties will be asked certain questions to determine that you have read the agreement; that you believe it to be fair reasonable under the circumstances; and, that you have had the opportunity to review your spouse’s financial statements, and believe those statements to be true.

Upon the completion of the uncontested Massachusetts divorce hearing, Massachusetts Probate and Family Court will send you a copy of the judgment of divorce for your records. The divorce will be absolute 120 days after the hearing, and the parties remain married until this “divorce nisi” period is over.

Attorney Anthony Rao, Esq. has handled hundreds of uncontested divorces throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  He is available for a free telephone consultation at 617-953-0836, or via email at: to discuss the uncontested divorce process in Massachusetts.

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Enforcment of Massachusetts Family Court Orders: How to make the other party do what they’re told

The Massachusetts Family Court has the authority to order parties – to numerous types of court proceedings – to do certain things. For example, a Temporary Order might order one party to pay child support to the other, or a Divorce Judgment may set a clear visitation schedule. A Judgment upon a Complaint for Modification might order the opposing party to pay a different amount of child support then previously ordered, or the Modification Judgment might change the previous terms of the parenting schedule. In all of these court orders, it is imperative that the party that is ordered to do something complies with the Massachusetts Family Court’s order. However, what does a party do if the ordered party is not in compliance with the Massachusetts Family Court Order? In this blog post, we examine the remedies and options available to the grieved party when the opposing party fails to comply with the Massachusetts Family and Probate Court’s order, and what strategies may work to force the opposing party into compliance.


There are a few options available to force a party to comply with a court order in Massachusetts. First, you should reach out to the opposing party – either through your attorney or on your own – and determine why they are not in compliance with the Massachusetts Family Court’s order. In some instances this contact may force them into quick compliance, and will also give you insight into why the other party has delayed his or her compliance with the Court’s order. Often times, however, the other party will not so easily fall into compliance and further, more drastic measures must be taken.

If the initial communication with the non-compliant party does little to get said party into compliance, the grieved party may be forced to retain counsel to draft and proceed with a Complaint for Contempt. A Complaint for Contempt in Massachusetts is used when a party is not in compliance with a court’s clear order. It is the only tool available to bring the non-compliant party before the court and to force the non-compliant party to explain why they are not in compliance with the Massachusetts Family Court order. A draft of the Complaint for Contempt, along with a strongly-worded letter, should be sent to the non-compliant party prior to the filing of the Massachusetts Complaint for Contempt. The letter should indicate that the non-compliant party has 10-days to bring himself into compliance, or alternatively, to reach out to the opposing party with his/her game-plan moving forward. The non-compliant party should be warned that failure to respond to the letter within the short deadline will force the grieved party file the Complaint for Contempt. The letter should also inform the non-compliant party that the grieved party will not only seek full compliance with the Massachusetts Family Court Order, but that the moving party will also seek reimbursement for missed work, as well as Attorney’s fees.


Unlike other Massachusetts’ contempt hearings, in the Massachusetts Family and Probate Court, the burden of proving that the defendant is in Contempt falls upon the defendant. Pursuant to Massachusetts’ statutory language, the defendant has the initial burden of showing – through a preponderance of the evidence – that the defendant is not in violation of the court order, or alternatively, that the defendant has not complied with the court order, but has done so because he does not have the ability to comply.

Sadly, many courts will still place the initial burden upon the plaintiff to show the defendant has the ability to comply with the court order; however, the statute placing the burden upon the non-compliant is clear and unambiguous.

If the court finds that the defendant is in contempt of court for failure to abide by the court’s order, there are many remedies available to the court. The Massachusetts Family and Probate Judge has the authority to incarcerate the defendant until the defendant becomes compliant with the court order, the judge may also give the defendant a short amount of time to become compliant, and to set a short review date to closely follow the defendant’s road to full compliance with the court order. However, the judge may not – under any lawful circumstance – modify the underlying court order in a contempt proceeding. If the defendant wants to change the terms of the previous court order, the defendant must file a Complaint for Modification.

Finally, contempt proceedings are often times quite confrontational. Emotions run high, and with the possibility of incarceration, the stakes are extremely important to all involved. Both parties should be well-prepared, and should explain their cases clearly and concisely. Any outside evidence that you may have to prove your case should be brought before the court, and presented to the other side prior to the hearing. Massachusetts Family Court orders are meant to be followed, not ignored or otherwise disregarded.

Attorney Anthony Rao has handled thousands of contempt proceedings before the Massachusetts Family and Probate Court. He has successfully enforced thousands of Massachusetts orders and judgments, and is agreeable to numerous types of retainer agreements to better fit his client’s resources . He may be reached at, or at 617-953-0836.

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Massachusetts Department of Revenue Child Support Enforcement Agency: They’re taking my license, now what?

As a former Child Support Enforcement Attorney for the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, I am all too familiar with the short-comings of an Agency empowered to insure that all the children of the Commonwealth are supported – to the largest extent possible – by their parents.  Indeed, custodial and non-custodial parents, on a daily basis, complain of the inefficiency and red-tape that seems to hamper the DOR in establishing, modifying, and enforcing child support orders in the Commonwealth.  However, with all of their short-comings, the DOR has an exceedingly undeserved poor reputation.  In this piece, we look to provide answers to the simplest of questions: What can the DOR do, and what is the best way to stop it!

The DOR has been given vast powers under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 119A.  The DOR can suspend an individuals driver’s license, levy their bank accounts, intercept tax refunds, garnish wages, suspend an individual’s passport, and put liens on a person’s real property.  I have been a personal witness to all such actions.  However, with each of these powers, comes internal regulations and policies.  Most attorneys and lay-persons do not understand how these enforcement powers work, and most importantly, how they can be stopped.  As a former DOR attorney, I know that each of these actions can be delayed, and in most instances, completely side-stepped by one simple method: being proactive!

To know the DOR is to love it! Well, maybe not.  But one must not be intimidated by the agency, or its vast powers.  When an individual, who has a child support order, is having difficulty in not paying their child support obligation – even for one week – that individual should immediately contact the DOR.  Most people will contact the 1-800 number that is provided by the DOR on its website.  This, however, is a horrible decision, that will most certainly cause more delay, more stress, and be almost completely unproductive.  So who should a person contact when they are facing the possibility of the falling behind on their child support, or even worse, losing their driver’s license?  The answer is short and sweet – your DOR case worker.

Every custodial and non-custodial parent has an assigned case worker at the DOR.  This case worker is assigned by the last the name of the non-custodial parent.  The case worker is the “manager” and direct-contact for your case.  They are in charge of all of the enforcement powers used on your case.  The DOR case worker has almost complete authority in determining whether or not your license will be suspended, if you may have your license reinstated, and their willingness to work with you is a critical part in solving the DOR puzzle.  How do I contact my DOR case worker?

The DOR case worker is located in a DOR Regional Office.  For example, if you have a child support order out of Essex County, your case worker would be located in the Northern Regional Office.  This office has a direct number.  Call the direct number and ask to speak to your case worker. The case worker will ALWAYS work with you – not against you.  They are not in the business of making money; they do not work on commissions; they do not get bonus points for taking away your license.  They are their to help, and they are their to assist in collecting child support on behalf of your child.  They do not find joy in ruining someone’s life, although you may certainly feel like they do.  Indeed, the vast majority of DOR workers and staff are reasonable individuals that are simply using their best efforts to make certain the children of the Commonwealth are supported by their parents.  They are not a debt collection agency – they are not nasty and mean.   Reach out to your case worker – and explain your situation – they will listen and do their best to help you – most of the time.

Retaining the services of an attorney with first-hand knowledge of the DOR – and an attorney who is advocating on your behalf – is very useful.  For example, if you do manage to contact your case worker at the DOR, the DOR case worker will record – from their own memory – notes from your conversation.  All of these notes are printed and placed into your file.  Subsequently, when your case is brought before the court for a contempt action (for failure to pay support, where you may face the possibility of jail time up to 179 days) the DOR attorney may very will use these notes to indicate to the judge what you have previously asserted to the DOR.  This is why having an attorney who understands the child support laws of Massachusetts, and what should and should not be admitted to the DOR,  is crucial in achieving a great outcome for all parties involved – including your children!

Finally, I have seen so many cases where the non-custodial parent did not have the financial means to pay a high child support order, and that individual simply ignored the order entirely.  And when I say ignore, I mean did not make any payments.  This, by far, is the worst thing to do, and will almost guarantee a jail sentence! If you cannot afford your Massachusetts Child Support Order, retain an experienced Child Support  Attorney to file for a modification to have your child support order lowered.  But even more importantly, pay something every week — even if it’s $20.00.  This will not only show your good faith effort to your DOR case worker, but will also be evidence in a future contempt case that you are making some sort of effort.  An individual who has paid something every week will certainly appear to be more credible and honorable than a person who has done nothing.  So do something!

I am here to help you navigate this maze, and to make certain your rights and your children’s rights are protected!



Massachusetts Child Support

Too much, too little: Modifying Child Support Orders In Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, most parents are unsatisfied with their current child support order.  It is widely believed that non-custodial parents pay too much, while custodial parents receive too little.  Therefore, the question often becomes:  How do I change my child support order in Massachusetts?

There are certain factors to consider when thinking about changing your Massachusetts Child Support order.  Here are the steps everyone should take when considering a request to change their current child support order in Massachusetts:

(1) Before pursuing litigation — Use the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines to estimate what your current child support order should be.

All too often people assume that their child support payment is too high or too low.  They run into court and ask for a change.   However, the parties have not completed an updated Child Support Guidelines Worksheet, and are entirely unprepared to make their request.  In fact, the parties generally have no idea what their child support order should be, other than it should be changed.  This is a huge mistake.  Decisions made on emotion and intangible factors are not going to assist one in making sure their best interests are met.

The Massachusetts Child Support Guideline Worksheet is relatively easy to complete, and will give any party a very good idea of what to expect at a court hearing.  Speak to an experienced child support attorney at the Rao Law Offices to assist as you as you prepare to modify your current child support order.

(2) Determine what has changed since the most recent order.

One cannot go back into Court and ask for a change in child support just because they want an increase or a decrease.   Under Massachusetts law,  one may only seek a modification of their current child support order if there has been a significant change in circumstance.  For example, if the non-custodial parent has been laid-off from work since the order entered, this would be a viable reason to go into court and ask for a reduction in child support.  Also, the custodial parent could go back into court and ask for an increase if the custodial parent’s income has substantially decreased.  There are many reasons as to why one’s current child support order should change.  Contact Attorney Rao today at 617-953-0836 to discuss your options.

Finally, there is one exception to the “change in circumstance” standard.  Under Massachusetts Child Support Law, one is entitled to go back into court every three years to have their child support reviewed by the court.  Therefore, even if there has been no “change in circumstance” the child support order may still be changed if the order is three-years or older.

(3) Determine if the Last Court Order Was a “Judgment” or a “Temporary Order”

In most instances, your last court order is going to be a Judgment.  This means that the initial matter (whether it be a Divorce, Modification, or a Support Complaint) has been finalized.  In this instance, you would need to file a “Complaint for Modification.”  In order to file a new “Complaint” one must file the Complaint and have the Complaint served by a Constable or Sheriff.

However, in some instances, a Temporary Order will still exist in your case.  In this instance, you may already have an upcoming court hearing to address all of the underlying issues in your case.  Further, there are certain circumstances where the Court never entered a “Judgment” in your case, but for whatever reason, did not order a review.  In this instance, you can simply draft a “Motion.”  This does require service by a Constable or Sheriff.  Rather, you must send the Motion via certified mail to the other party.

(4) Be Proactive — You are not entitled to a Retroactive Modification

One must be proactive in their pursuit for a modification of their current child support.  I have handled hundreds of child support cases where the non-custodial parent had been laid-off for years, but failed to go into court and ask for a reduction in child support.  The end result is the non-custodial parent owes thousands and thousands of dollars in back child support without the ability to pay.  The lesson here is an easy one: you cannot sit back and wait for the “system” to come to you.  You must take action as soon as your situation changes.  You must be proactive.  Under Massachusetts Law, one is not entitled to a retroactive modification.

If you are thinking about a modification of your current child support contact an attorney at Rao Law Offices at 617-953-0836.


Massachusetts Child Support

Massachusetts Child Support: When does it end?

It is common belief — at least for those who have never had to deal with the issues of child support — that child support obligations terminate upon a child turning the age of 18.   While it is true that under certain circumstances a child support obligation will terminate when the youngest child reaches the age of majority, in Massachusetts a parent may receive child support up and until their youngest child reaches the age of 23.  Indeed, there is no other state or jurisdiction within the United States that allows for child support to run for so long.  Whatever your personal opinion on the possible length of child support in Massachusetts, understanding  the framework and logic behind court ordered child support payments will help you better be prepared for any future court proceeding, and will allow you to have the knowledge you need to navigate this most important area of Massachusetts Family Law.

There are two controlling statutes that govern Massachusetts Child Support:  Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 228, Section 28 (for the children of married parties), and Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 209C, Section 9 (for children born out of wedlock).  Both statutes — while not identical in language — are identical in all respects with what the statutes require.  Indeed, it is violative of both federal and state law to treat children born out of wedlock differently than children born of marriage.  These two statutes set clear parameters as to the how long child support should run.  However, the statutes alone are not the only essential read to understand the Massachusetts Child Support laws.

The Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines, revised and updated in 2009, are a must read for anyone who is involved in a child support case.   A substantive document with explicit rules on child support in Massachusetts, the Child Support Guidelines give guidance to practioners and litigants on all aspects of child support in Massachusetts.   For example, the Guidelines give the judges of the Probate and Family Court guidance on how to appropriate income from a secondary job, or income from a parent who is working overtime.  Further, the guidelines give guidance to the Family Court on how to handle unreported income, or attribution of income if a parent is underemployed.  The Guidelines are full of substance, and are an essential read for anyone dealing with the frustrating issue of child support.

The Guidelines, however, do not explicitly deal with the issue of termination of child support.  Rather, the legislature left this to statutes.  Massachusetts has three different categories, or three different age brackets with respect to child support.  The first, and most obvious, is any child who is under the age of 18.  The simple rule here is that barring some sort of unusual circumstance, any child under the age of 18 is entitled to receive child support.  There is no need to look into the circumstance of the child, what the child is doing, or what the circumstances are of the custodial parent.

The second bracket is a child who has obtained the age of 18, but has not yet obtained the age of 21.  This bracket is an interesting one.  Under Massachusetts law, a child between the age of 18 and 20 is entitled to receive child support in two circumstances.  The first, and most obvious, would be the traditional situation where the child is enrolled in college.  In this instance, the custodial parent would be eligible to receive child support for the support and maintenance of the child while the child is enrolled in post-secondary education.

There is an important aside to the traditional circumstance where the child moves off to college that should be addressed.  A child who lives away for college — a common occurrence even in a saturated college environment such as Massachusetts  — is still dependent upon his/her parents.  Indeed, the custodial parent must still maintain a room for the child when the child returns to home during breaks and summer vacation.  Accordingly, a child living in dormitories for 9 months out of the year is still entitled to child support payments, and will be until said child is graduated from college or has reached the age of 21.

The third and final age bracket is 21 up to the age of 23.  This bracket only applies to children that are enrolled in a post-secondary education program.  This bracket is similar to age bracket two above, however, it does not include children that are not enrolled in college.  Accordingly, a child that is 21 years-of-age or older in Massachusetts — and is not in college — is emancipated and not eligible for child support, even if the child lives at home is for all intents and purposes is dependent upon the custodial parent for support.

Moreover, a child that is 23 years-old and is on the “7 year” college plan (See the movie “Animal House ” for a better understanding of the “7 year college plan), and accordingly, has not yet graduated from college is nonetheless ineligible to receive child support payments.  In other words, once a child reaches 23 years-of-age in Massachusetts, regardless of their education situation, or their dependency upon their parents for support and maintenance, the custodial parent is no longer entitled to child support payments from the non-custodial parents.

Finally, while these so-called “brackets” are explicitly outlined in the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines, there is one exception to the termination of child support upon a child reaching the age of 23.  In Massachusetts, the Supreme Judicial Court has concluded in the case Feinberg v. Diamant, that adult children past the age of 23 are nonetheless entitled to support from their parents if the child of said order is dependent upon his parents for maintenance and support.  Therefore, if a child is over the age of 23, yet suffers from a condition (mental or physical) that renders said child dependent upon his parents, the non-custodial parent will be required to pay child support to the custodial parent.