Clarification of Standard for Modifying Child Support in Massachusetts


On March 12, 2013, the Supreme Judicial Court clarified the standard for modification of child support under the Massachusetts child support guidelines in the case, Morales v. Morales.

Before the Morales case there was an ambiguity in the law, where one portion indicated the standard for modification of child support payments was  a material change in circumstances, which is the usual standard for modifications.  The law itself had said: “In any proceeding to establish or modify an amount of child support, the child support guidelines promulgated by the chief justice of [the trail court] shall apply.” 

The SJC has held that the child support guidelines are the standard, and there is no need to prove a material change in circumstances to obtain a modification.  A parent needs to show only an “inconsistency” between what he or she is paying in child support and what the guidelines say he or she should be paying.  This is quite easy to prove and I anticipate many child support-paying parents to seek modifications in court.

It is also both good law and common sense.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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