News from the courts/agencies

Thursday, Jul. 20, 2017
Trial Court issues new child support guidelines
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On Friday, April 7, Trial Court Chief Justice Paula M. Carey will host the opening ceremony of the Franklin County Justice Center. In addition to Chief Justice Carey, speakers will include Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg, Trial Court Administrator Harry Spence, Commissioner of the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance Carol Gladstone, Representative Stephen Kulik of the 1st Franklin District, Representative Paul Mark of the 2nd Berkshire District, Representative Susannah Whipps of the 2nd Franklin District, Northwestern District Attorney David E. Sullivan, Franklin County Bar Association Chair John Stobierski, and Greenfield District Court First Justice William F. Mazanec. Franklin County Register of Probate John F. Merrigan will deliver welcoming remarks.
The renovation of the Franklin County Justice Center began in 2014. The new courthouse incorporates the historic 1932 façade of the original building with a 104,000 square foot, three-story addition. The Justice Center's six courtrooms include updated technological capabilities to allow for hearings to be conducted by video conference and newly installed recording equipment for court proceedings. The courthouse will also offer WiFi for visitors. The expanded building houses five court departments: Juvenile, Superior, District, Housing, and Probate and Family Courts, as well as the Law Library, Court Service Center, and Registry of Deeds.
Franklin County Justice Center
43 Hope Street, Greenfield, MA 01301
Friday, April 7, 2017
2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Trial Court Chief Justice Paula M. Carey has announced the promulgation of revised child support guidelines to be effective on September 15, based on a comprehensive review by the 2016-17 Child Support Guidelines Task Force. The task force that conducted the review, which is required every four years, was chaired by Probate and Family Court Chief Justice Angela M. Ordoñez.

The child support guidelines are used by Trial Court judges in setting orders for child support, in deciding whether to approve agreements for child support, and in deciding cases that are before the court to modify existing orders.

"I am very appreciative of the work that this Task Force did in reviewing every facet of the child support guidelines," said Trial Court Chief Justice Carey. "The 2017 guidelines include substantive changes, as well as formatting changes. The 2017 guidelines include commentary that explains the reasoning of the Task Force and provides direction as to how the Task Force believes the guidelines should be interpreted and applied. I believe that the commentary will assist litigants, attorneys, court staff and judges in using the guidelines."

"These guidelines are responsive to the feedback that the Task Force received regarding the costs of health care and child care, as well as child support orders for children between the ages of 18 and 23, and post-secondary educational expenses," said Trial Court Chief Justice Carey.

The task force recommended a number of clarifications and changes. Some are minor, while others represent new or modified provisions. The most significant include:

  • Increasing the minimum support order to $25 per week
  • Removing the parenting time/child support calculation that was inserted into the 2013 guidelines
  • Including a capped adjustment in the child support calculation for child care and health care costs
  • Addressing child support for children between the ages of 18 and 23
  • Including provisions related to parental contribution to post-secondary educational expenses

Extensive information about all of the provisions of the child support guidelines can be found in the commentary that is included in the guidelines. Additional information on the quadrennial review of the child support guidelines can be found on the court website here.

In addition to Probate and Family Court Chief Justice Ordoñez, the 2016-17 task force included: Rachel B. Biscardi, Esq.; Jennifer Clapp, Esq.; Associate Justice Kevin R. Connelly; Hon. Shawn Dooley for the Ninth Norfolk District; Jonathan E. Fields, Esq.; Fern Frolin, Esq.; Ruth J. Liberman; Linda Medonis, Esq.; Dolores E. O'Neill, Esq.; Arron Pridgeon; James J. Richards, Esq.; and Michelle A. Yee, Esq. The economic consultants for this task force were Mark Sarro, Ph.D. and R. Mark Rogers. The task force was supported by Project Manager Denise M. Fitzgerald, Esq.; Christine Yurgelun, Esq.; and Robert Dunphy, Jr., Esq.