My ex is on SSDI. I do my best to make ends meet as a home health aide with the funds the children get from SSDI and his nominal $25 per week child support payment but it is incredibly stressful. I only work part time because child care is so expensive. I know the child support guidelines are changing in October and I hoped this meant he was going to pay more. But someone told me his support might be cut in half. That would be so unfair. I can’t imagine why they would cut my support.
I was going to try to modify the order to get more money from him since your last column said day care costs are going to be shared. If I can get him to pay half of day care, I can work more hours, which I really want to do — I would like to make enough that I can start nursing school. Now I don’t know whether to try to get more or to sit here grateful for the small amount I do receive. What do you suggest?
The new child support worksheet calculator is now available on the Mass.gov website as a fillable pdf. You can find it at courtforms.jud.state.ma.us/publicforms/PFC0001_2021. Make sure to use a browser other than Internet Explorer if you want the form to work. In order to make a decision as to how to move forward, play with the form and run some different scenarios. The form now has distinctive places for you to include what your children receive on account of SSDI, what he receives and, of course, the amount of child care costs.
When I say play with the form, first put in the numbers used to arrive at your current support order when it was entered so you know what the new order would look like. Then increase your child care expenses, which will allow you to work more hours — of course you will also need to increase your income if you are working more. See whether it makes sense to take on more hours and more child care based on the new formula and what that does to your child support order. If it makes sense, you need to enroll them in more child care and take on the new hours before you file a modification.
As you look at scenarios, keep in mind that the task force who came up with these new child support guidelines recognized that some lower income folks were losing out on government benefits because their child support was too high. The new minimum weekly order is $12. You have the previous weekly minimum so before you make a decision, you may want to inquire into what additional government subsidies you and your children might receive if your child support was decreased. While you are at it, look into whether there are low-income child care programs you are not already participating in that could also allow you to work more hours.