Armstrong Law, P.C.

Penalties on back child support in Massachusetts

When it comes to child support payments in Massachusetts, many people consider the Bay State as one of the toughest. For example, the Mass.gov website warns that the state may still take actions against parents who fall behind, even if they make voluntary extra contributions to their past-due balance every week.

The state views past-due child support as an installment debt and requires parents to use their assets to pay off this debt as soon as possible. Not even social security disability and unemployment insurance checks remain immune to child support deductions.

Many parents falsely believe that after a child turns 18, they may either stop paying child support or pay a reduced amount for the remaining children. A court order may require parents to keep making payments until a child is 23 years old. Child support also remains the same even when one child comes of age and typically continues until the last child reaches their 21st birthday.

Mass.gov warns parents not to stop paying until they receive permission from the court or they may owe more than just back child support. They may also owe penalties and interest. As of 2010, the monthly penalty rate and the monthly interest rate is 0.5% each.

Note that the state may not charge penalty and interest in all cases, even when a parent has multiple outstanding child support cases. Also, one good way many parents avoid these fees is to pay at least the monthly minimum, which is usually decided by the state.

Many parents argue that the government often goes too far in its bid to obtain child support money for children. After all, what if they simply do not have the money? However, as many advocates for child welfare have pointed out, children’s needs do not go on hold when parents face financial difficulties. Leaving the mandatory financial burden up to the custodial parent alone, who by proximity must always care for the child, would not be fair to either child or parent.

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