Child Support – The Good, The Bad and The Necessary

Child Support

When two partners split and children are involved, child support is a very important part of the separation process that is going to have to be taken into account. Both parents are obligated to support their children to meet their needs. When calculating child support, Massachusetts follows the “Child Support Guidelines” which takes into account the income of the custodial and non-custodial parent. There are several additional factors that are taken into account when adjusting the amount of child support required by one parent like health insurance, child care costs and other child support orders for other minor children. Every situation and family is unique and has differing circumstances, and that is what makes these types of arrangements impossible to give a set answer to as far as “how much” however, the Court will almost always follow the calculated guidelines unless there is a reason to deviate from it. The child support guidelines can be found here:

On January 1, 2009, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts changed the guidelines that judges use to determine child support. While the old guidelines relied mostly on the mathematical formula to arrive at a support number, the new guidelines give judges more flexibility and discretion. This change should help judges minimize the tax impact on families and create fairer results in application of the guidelines.

Child Support

There are some cases however, when child support is not necessary. For example, if parents have joint physical custody or have virtually equally parenting tim,e there may be no need for one parent to pay child support to the other depending upon the comparative incomes of the parties. Many parents have concerns about help paying for private school tuition, after school programs or other expenses that may not be taken into account in basic child support calculation. In circumstances like the amount may be adjusted up or down to account for the extra costs.

Our firm can help you understand the factors to present to the court in order to obtain a child support order that protects your rights. In addition, we can help you with other aspects of family law that will affect your children’s safety and financial stability.


Limited Assistance Representation

Limited Assistance Representation

What is limited assistance representation?

Limited assistance representation (sometimes called “unbundling”) is a way that an attorney can help you with part of your case while you do the rest of your case. For example:

1. You can consult with an attorney to prepare or review your paperwork, but attend the hearing yourself;

2. You can represent yourself through the whole case, and periodically consult with an attorney who can coach you on the law, procedures and strategy;

3. You can do the preparation yourself and hire an attorney just to make the court appearance for you;

4. You may want to do your own investigation of the facts (“discovery”) and ask the attorney to assist you in putting the information in a format which is useful to the court;

5. You may ask the attorney to be on “standby” while you attend the settlement conference yourself.

With limited scope assistance, you may be able to handle the whole case yourself, except for a few technical areas where the attorney can help you. It really is between you and the attorney how much of your case you hire them to do. If you do this, it is important to keep returning to the same attorney. Otherwise, you’re paying a new person to get up to speed on your case each time that you consult. Some areas of the law are extremely technical and it is rare for non-attorneys to effectively handle them. Among these are pension rights, stock options, and business interests. You will almost certainly need the assistance of an attorney if your case involves any of these issues.


Massachusetts Bankruptcy Protection

Bankruptcy Protection law

Imagine Yourself Debt-Free, With a Fresh Start

While it may not be easy to decide whether or not to file for bankruptcy, it can offer you a way to eliminate your debt burden when it has become too great to handle on your own. Under the current economic conditions, bankruptcy no longer has the negative “stigma” associated with it many years ago. The rich and famous as well as the poor and unknown have filed for bankrupcy protection in the federal courts and as foreclosures and unemployment continue to degrade the economy, individuals and businesses alike will continue to seek a “fresh start” through bankruptcy.

There are two main types of bankruptcy cases individuals use, Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. While both provide relief from debt and a fresh financial start, there are distinct differences and at Wright & Associates, we are committed to making sure you understand what they are and what options are available to you.

Chapter 7

Chapter 7 is commonly referred to as “straight bankruptcy,” and is the most common type of bankruptcy filing. Petitioners who invoke Chapter 7 have few or no assets available to pay creditors, and the discharge applies to most debts.

Important things to know about Chapter 7 are:

You must qualify to file Chapter 7 based on your income and a means test set out in bankruptcy law. If you can afford to repay a portion of your debts, you may have to use Chapter 13

Your available assets, called nonexempt property, may be sold by the bankruptcy trustee to pay your creditors

You are permitted to keep exempt property, which is protected from the reach of your creditors

The Chapter 7 discharge applies to most common unsecured debt types, including medical bills and credit cards

Most Chapter 7 cases are “no-asset,” meaning there’s nothing left to pay creditors after accounting for your property exemptions. State or federal law control property exemptions, and this is why bankruptcy cases can be different from state to state.

Bankruptcy Protection law

Chapter 13

Chapter 13 is commonly referred to as a “re-organization” because it essentially re-organizes and prioritizes your debts. That is, you make partial or full payments according to a court-approved repayment plan, and remaining debts are discharged once you complete the repayment plan. If you have a set amount of stable disposable income after paying for life essentials, Chapter 13 may be your only bankruptcy option.

The repayment plan is the main part of a Chapter 13 case and property exemption laws factor into figuring out repayment plan details.

Key features of Chapter 13 cases:

  • You have mortgages or loans you want to bring current through the repayment plan, allowing you to keep the property
  • Your debts are ineligible for a Chapter 7 discharge, such as taxes, child support or student loans
  • You’re driven to pay off debts by personal values or morals