The Massachusetts Child Support Enforcement office is responsible for collecting and distributing child support payments. The government takes child support orders very seriously, and parents are required to pay their court-ordered amount on a predetermined basis. If a parent agrees to pay child support on their own, the process will usually be easier, but if a parent cannot be found or refuses to pay, then the other parent may elect to hire an attorney to help them collect the support they are owed.
Child support lawyers in MA may be able to help parents file for and obtain child support. A child support attorney, like other types of attorneys, strives to advocate for both the parent and child to ensure that they both receive a fair amount of support. Parents may only have to pay child support lawyers’ fees if the lawyer is able to help them, and many law offices may offer payment plans to parents who are unable to afford an attorney on their own. If you have ever asked the question “What is child support?” keep reading to find out the answer.
What does child support cover in Massachusetts?
Child support in Massachusetts, as the name suggests, serves to provide financial support to the children of noncustodial parents. Child support is usually paid by one parent to the other, but in some cases, it may be paid directly to other guardians. Child support enforcement laws are primarily aimed at noncustodial parents who do not reside with their child, and the money they pay will go to the custodial parent on a regular basis. Custodial parents may need the help of a child support attorney if the noncustodial parent refuses to pay what they are ordered to. A skilled attorney may be able to help them get the financially delinquent parent to pay. Conversely, if a person pays child support, but does not believe the money is being used to pay for the needs of their child, they may choose to hire an attorney to represent them.
Establishing Paternity for Child Support in Massachusetts
Before a custodial parent can receive child support in Massachusetts, the state strongly recommends both parents establish paternity. This can be done during the child support case, and it is recommended that parents seeking financial support establish the paternity of the child in question as soon as possible. The Office of Child Support Enforcement also has the resources to help custodial parents find the mother or father of their child in the event they lose contact. The office will work with both state and federal agencies to find noncustodial parents in a timely manner, even if the parent filing for support does not have their address or phone number.
Child Support Enforcement in Massachusetts
If a parent refuses to pay MA child support, the government has the ability to utilize various collection efforts. When a parent does not have access to the child support services they need, they may have difficulty meeting the material needs of their child. The Office of Child Support Enforcement may take the following measures against a parent who refuses to pay voluntarily:
- Offset state and federal tax refunds
- Withhold wages
- Secure liens on property
- File state or federal charges
Child support service may elect to file criminal charges against parents if they do not show up for hearings or judicial proceedings. If a parent is financially unable to pay child support, the government will do everything possible to work with them or help them find employment. Parents who are experiencing financial difficulties may also request to have their child support payments amended until their situation improves.
How to Apply for Child Support in Massachusetts
An order for child support in Massachusetts will decide how much and how often a noncustodial parent will have to pay. Child support orders often require noncustodial parents to provide their child with health insurance coverage if they have access to it. Before enforcing child support order, the court will take the needs of the child, the financial situation of both parents and the salary of the noncustodial parent into consideration. To apply for financial support, the custodial parent must take the following actions:
- Contact a MA child support office.
- Collect information about you, your child and the noncustodial parent. The office will tell you what documents and information you need to apply.
- Complete a child support service application using the information you have gathered.
Residents who receive public assistance will automatically be referred to a child support office, so there is no need for them to complete the application process. After the application is received and processed, the custodial and noncustodial parent will usually be required to attend a hearing.