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Child support modifications for special needs kids in Massachusetts

On Behalf of | Apr 20, 2024 | Divorce

Divorce is a complex process, often even more so when there are children involved. The aftermath is often not a walk in the park either. If your child develops a disability after your divorce in Massachusetts, you might have questions about how this reality will impact your child support agreement.

Can you modify your existing order to reflect the increased costs associated with caring for your special needs child? The answer is yes, but there are factors to consider.

The role of child support

Child support is a financial obligation of both parents to provide for their child’s basic needs. The Bay State uses a standardized guideline worksheet that factors in income and parenting time to determine the amount of support owed by the parent who does not have primary custody. This base amount is intended to cover housing, food, clothing and other essential expenses.

Special needs and increased costs

When a child has a disability, the financial burden on the custodial parent can increase significantly. These additional costs might include:

  • Specialized medical care and therapies
  • Medications and equipment
  • Special education programs
  • Transportation to appointments

These expenses are not typically factored into the initial child support calculation.

Modifying child support for special needs

State law allows for modification of child support orders based on a substantial change in circumstances. A child’s disability can qualify as a substantial change, especially if the disability requires significant financial resources for care.

If you wish to request a child support modification due to your child’s disability, you should collect documentation that proves the child’s disability and the associated expenses. This might include medical records, therapy invoices and receipts for specialized equipment. This way, you can file a petition with the court requesting a modification of the child support order. This petition should detail the child’s disability and the increased costs you incur as the primary caregiver.

The court will hold a hearing to consider your petition and the other parent’s response. Evidence will be presented regarding the child’s needs and the financial impact on the custodial parent. The judge will then decide whether to modify the child support order and, if so, by how much. Massachusetts law allows for modifications under these circumstances.

By gathering proper documentation, filing a petition and seeking legal counsel, you can help to better ensure that your child receives the financial support they need now that their circumstances have evolved.