Many of us, one of the writers here included, opposed the idea of the Child Support Guidelines (CSG) when first issued in 1987, fearing that a formula would be the end of thinking. The first iteration of the Massachusetts CSG met applause and consternation, each in considerable proportions. Then a funny thing happened: we began to use them every day. While they were far from perfect, two major objectives were met: greater consistency of outcomes (less variance by reason of county or judge) and enhanced predictability, reducing litigation of the “inevitable” (sometimes to a fault).
Then came the mandatory quadrennial reviews of the CSG, as mandated by federal law, leading only to tinkering until 2009, when they were substantially overhauled. Now, we have the result of latest review: the 2013 CSG. This latest effort, neither tinkering nor overhaul, provides numerous clarifications, application of consensus practices where gaps existed, new concepts and plain adjustment of some economic outcome. The result is a maturing CSG that does benefit from its regular re-scrutiny, and by-and-large, the 2013 changes are helpful and sensible. Some, we question.
Over the next several weeks or months, we will explore some of the 2013 CSG that are immediately apparent from our perspective as Greater Boston and Western Massachusetts divorce and family law mediators. Of course, time will reveal new questions, gaps and perhaps, inconsistencies, and we will address them from time to time as they arise or come to our attention.
Our next entry will consider the priority of alimony versus CSG calculations.