The Supreme Judicial Court’s recent decision in the case of Cavanaugh v. Cavanaugh has had a major impact on how alimony and child support are calculated in Massachusetts family court cases. The court’s decision, which was issued in June 2022, has revised the way in which income is considered when determining support payments, and has introduced a new approach to calculating alimony and child support in cases where both elements of support are involved.
One of the key changes brought about by the Cavanaugh decision is the inclusion of employer contributions to retirement as income when determining support payments. This decision has significant implications for those who are going through a divorce, as it will impact the amount of support that is paid. Those who are seeking support payments, or who are going through a divorce, should understand the implications of this decision and be prepared to consider the impact of employer contributions on their support payments.
Calculating Alimony and Child Support
Another important aspect of the Cavanaugh decision is the introduction of a new approach to calculating alimony and child support in cases where both elements of support are involved. Previously, child support was calculated first, which often made an alimony calculation unnecessary. However, under the Cavanaugh decision, alimony should be calculated first. This new approach involves adding the alimony payment to the payee’s income and subtracting it from the payor’s income, and then using these new incomes to run the Child Support Guidelines.
In September 2022, the SJC issued a revision to its decision, now suggesting that both “alimony first” and “child support first” calculations should be considered when determining what is the most equitable support payment. This change has caused some confusion among lawyers, who are now tasked with considering both approaches when determining the best way to proceed in a support case. However, it also provides greater flexibility in determining what is the most equitable support payment, taking into account the unique circumstances of each case.
The Impact on Divorce Settlements
The Cavanaugh decision has already had a significant impact on pending divorce cases and will continue to impact settlements in the Probate and Family Court. Lawyers will need to be more creative and thoughtful in their approach to these cases, taking into account the various factors that may impact support payments. For example, the court may consider factors such as the length of the marriage, the payee’s earning capacity, and the payor’s ability to pay.
It is also important to note that the Cavanaugh decision may have a significant impact on those who are seeking support payments, as well as those who are going through a divorce. Those who are seeking support payments should be prepared to provide information about their income, including employer contributions to retirement, and should be prepared to consider the implications of the Cavanaugh decision when determining the amount of support they will receive.
The Cavanaugh v. Cavanaugh decision has had a major impact on the way alimony and child support are calculated in Massachusetts family court cases. The inclusion of employer contributions to retirement as income and the introduction of a new approach to calculating support has caused a significant shift in how lawyers and courts approach support cases. It is important for individuals involved in support cases to understand the implications of this decision, and to be prepared to consider the impact of employer contributions on support payments, as well as the new approach to calculating support. The Cavanaugh decision highlights the importance of seeking the guidance of experienced legal professionals in order to ensure that support payments are calculated fairly and equitably.