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Legal Information: Massachusetts

Massachusetts Child Support

Laws current as of
November 12, 2020

Child Support

Who can get child support?
How long does child support last?
How much child support might I get?
Can the judge order that I provide health care coverage?

Who can get child support?

You can seek a child support order if you are raising your child and living separately from the other parent. It does not matter whether you are married or unmarried.1

If you are unmarried, before the court can issue a child support order, the father’s paternity (legal fatherhood) has to be established.2 The father and mother can voluntarily acknowledge paternity together by signing and filing an acknowledgment of parentage, or either parent can file a paternity petition in court and paternity can be established by a court order.3

Child support can be filed for as part of a divorce action, a separation action, a custody action, a paternity action, or it can be filed as its own separate action. You can also receive a temporary child support order as part of a 209A abuse prevention order.4

1 M.G.L. 209C § 9; M.G.L. 208 § 28; M.G.L. 209 § 37
2 M.G.L. 209C § 11
3 M.G.L. 209C § 2
4 M.G.L. 209A § 3(e)

How long does child support last?

A parent is generally obligated to support his/her child until the age of 18. However, child support can last until the age of 21 if:

  • the child is still living with a parent; and
  • the child is primarily dependent upon that parent.1

1 M.G.L. 209C § 1; M.G.L. 208 § 28

How much child support might I get?

Child support payments are calculated according to the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines, available on the Massachusetts government website. For more information on how to get your child support order enforced once you have an order in place, visit the Massachusetts Child Support Enforcement website.

Can the judge order that I provide health care coverage?

If a judge makes a child support order, the judge will also require that either parent provide health care coverage for the child if the coverage is available for the child and is offered at a reasonable cost. A “reasonable cost” is considered to be not more than five percent of the parent’s gross income. The judge can also order that the other parent has to contribute to the cost of the health care coverage and to any unreimbursed medical expenses.

If the child is enrolled in MassHealth, or a similar program in another state, then the parent will be required to keep that child enrolled in the program for as long as the child is eligible. If private insurance is available for the child, in addition to MassHealth, then the judge could order that the parent enroll the child in the private insurance if:

  • the private insurance is available at a reasonable cost;
  • enrollment in the private insurance is in the best interest of the child; and
  • the enrollment does not create an undue hardship for the parents.1

1 M.G.L. 208 § 28; M.G.L. 209 § 37; M.G.L. 209C § 9