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Child support modifications

Divorced parents in Massachusetts may encounter life changes during the course of taking care of their children. When this occurs, one or both sides may seek modifications to a current child support agreement depending on the specific circumstances.

According to FindLaw, child support payments cover a number of essential and nonessential items the child requires up to a certain age. Monetary support covers shelter, food, clothing, basic education and health insurance. Support may also include:

  • Unexpected medical expenses
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Expenses related to child care 
  • Travel costs associated with visitation

In most states, support is required until the child turns 18. In Massachusetts, the child's expenses may be covered until they are 23 if they are a full-time college student.

Parents who are either paying or receiving support may request a change in certain situations. Mass Legal Help states there are three changes that can result in a modification request. One is that certain expenses have either increased or decreased. The others are the income of a parent has changed or health insurance has been modified. Expenses that constitute a support order change include:

  • Amount of health, vision or dental insurance
  • Child care costs
  • Dramatic changes in child's health
  • Costs related to a move

While either parent can request a modification, the court does not necessarily need to grant the request. However, there are circumstances in which it is required to change the order. This includes when health insurance is needed and one of the parents has either recently gained or lost insurance coverage. The order must also be changed in the event support guidelines say the monetary amount in the order is different than what it should be.

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