Every four years, the Massachusetts Probate and Family Courts task force re-evaluates the child support guidelines to determine their effectiveness and what changes need to be made. Last fall, the court launched new guidelines which made the 2018 version extinct. Some of the notable changes can lead to a significant change for both the payor and the payee: 1. The minimum order has decreased from $25 per week to between $12-20 per week. While the change may not seem significant, the relatively small difference can be profound for a parent who is already receiving such a minimal amount and trying to feed and clothe a child. 2. By contrast, the maximum threshold for combined gross income to be used for calculations has increased from $250,000 to $400,000 per year. Depending on income level, the child support order can actually go up or down under the new guidelines even if the income used hasn’t changed. 3. Guidelines now allow for an order up to 40% of payors income under circumstances. In cases where the guidelines suggest an order in excess of 40%, then there is an opportunity for court approved deviation from those guidelines. 4. Orders which cover more than one child are generally higher than they would have been under the previous guidelines. 5. Child care expenses are now more proportional based on the parents’ ability to pay for the first $355 per week per child. 6. Social security benefits are now more defined. Under the 2021 guidelines, social security benefits and SSDI are now considered, especially if one of the parents are receiving benefits for one or more of the children. 7. Additional income can now be used in calculation of child support. Generally speaking, the parties can now include any stock benefit, incentives and overtime when determining a party’s income. We expect that the courts will continue to look at three (3) years of history to determine if that income is an expectation or a one time event. As always, please feel free to reach out to us with any family law or other issues if we can be of help to you. Regards, John & Faye
2020 has been the most “2020” year ever. We have had all sorts of odd surprises, like an earthquake in Bristol County and the death of Eddie Van Halen; to the contrary, we are not really surprised by the litigation of the Presidential election results.
We will take no position on the allegations, merits or likelihood of success regarding the challenges to the election results; however, we are certainly interested in the legal argument and precedent that might be created.
Here’s what we know so far:
1. Election law is it’s own specialty and one that we don’t have any experience with firsthand;
2. Election laws vary from state to state at this point; and
3. There is some pretty solid case law already established which may determine what happens next.
If you are interested in learning more about some of the established law in specific states, follow this link for more information:
We hope that this email finds you safe and healthy. If you are like most of the United States, you are watching more television than ever during the Covid pandemic. Have you noticed how many people are broadcasting live from their homes? If so, have you taken note of the adorable pets, crazy paint colors and amazing kitchens? We certainly have!
Not surprisingly, Twitter has been a hot spot for commentary on what is happening in the world. If you need some amusement, check out the tweets from Room Rater @ratemyskperoom. The tweets have become so popular that they were even highlighted on the Today Show:
As always, please let us know if we can assist you in any way. Please continue to stay safe.
John & Faye
**** Please note that we have moved. Effective as of 4/13/2020, our office is now located at 491 Mt. Hope Street, North Attleboro. ****
If you haven’t already figured it out, inspiration for our newsletters often comes from pop culture or current events; this one comes from channel surfing in between innings and randomly catching a question on Family Feud.
What caught our attention? “If your husband told you that he wanted a divorce on Sunday, what would be the first thing that you do on Monday morning?” Of course, we were curious how people answered.
The answers that didn’t find a spot on the survey were entertaining: throw a party, go on a date, have sex with my spouse’s best friend and bad mouth the person.* We can’t tell anyone what to do, but generally speaking, we recommend not doing any of those things.
What *should* you do in the short term?
1. Call a lawyer to familiarize yourself with your legal rights;
2. Take care of yourself by remembering to eat, sleep, exercise and maintain your appearance;
3. Speak positively about your spouse in the presence of your children;
4. Try to avoid hostile confrontations with your spouse;
5. Remind your children that you love them and divorce will not change anything;
6. Seek out a therapist;
7. Answer questions that your spouse may have about things that may have occurred during the marriage in a respectful manner but be careful about asking questions while you are still angry;
8. Start collecting financial information about marital assets; and
9. Retain an attorney.
We realize that some of our suggestions may not be easy to do in the heat of the moment when you are hurt or angry. Chances are good that you will have some heated discussions, but civil discussions are usually more effective and productive.
As always, we are here to help you with any legal questions that you may have. Please feel free to call the office or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
John & Faye
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