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Child support laws and public opinion

Parents in Massachusetts may not realize that research shows a disconnect between the way child support laws work and the way people view them. The public seems to believe the formulas used to calculate child support are not fair, according to one recently-published study. The study found that existing child support laws are unfair in the eyes of the public. When the mother is the custodial parent, the public seems to believe that child support should be based on the mother's income and adjusted depending on how her income changes. However, in some states, child support is determined based exclusively on the income of the noncustodial parent, typically the father. In other states, the incomes of both parents are used to determine the amount of child support owed, with a strong emphasis on the noncustodial parent's income.

Participants in the study were given child support cases to analyze. They then were then asked to determine how much child support the mother would get in each case. The researchers modified the incomes of the parents to see if they could change the participants' answers.

The study also sought to determine whether participants changed the child support owed if the custodial parent remarried. In many cases they did, decreasing the amount owed since the mother had more resources once she was married. However, stepparents in most cases are not held to bear a legal responsibility to provide financial support for their stepchildren.

Along with child custody , a parent going through a divorce will likely have to confront the issue of child support. Each state has its own set of guidelines for courts to use in ordering support, but on occasion a judge will vary from the guidelines. As the decision to do so is usually based upon the presentation of compelling evidence, the assistance of a family law attorney may be valuable to a parent who has issues with the amount that the guidelines would otherwise require.

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