by Attorney Amy Saunders, Esq.
Long gone are the days where you had to sit and ponder on what could amount to a substantial and material change in circumstances to warrant a change in the child support payments and guidelines. After the Supreme Judicial Court ruled in Morales v. Morales, see below, a deviation in guidelines will be modified if there “is an inconsistency between the amount of the existing order and the amount that would result from application of the child support guidelines.” Even if the order is a recent one, it still may be modified.
In Morales, the mother filed a complaint for modification of the child support order claiming that the Father’s income increased. However, the lower court dismissed the modification as there was not a material and substantial change of circumstances based on the change in father’s income. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that there may be an amended order for support if there is in inconsistency in the support paid v. the support calculated under the current child support guidelines.
What does this mean in practical terms? It is easier to get a modification of child support up or down. For example, it is easier to get a decrease in child support where the payor’s income has gone down. Similarly, it is easier for a non payor to get support increased where the payor’s income has increased. Generally, the non payor’s income does not significantly change the guidelines too much, but ever a change in this could warrant a modification under G.L. 208, § 28.
To download a PDF of the case, click here.