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Can I get child support?

Produced by an AmeriCorps Project of Western Massachusetts Legal Services updated and revised Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed October, 2009

You can ask the court for child support if your child lives with you most of the time, and the other parent does not live with you and your child. You do not need to have been married to your child's other parent to get child support. Your child has a right to support from both parents whether or not you were ever married.

You need to file a complaint in court to get child support. See How do I file for child support? to learn how to do this.

If I get TAFDC, can I get child support too?

If the child support is less than your TAFDC grant, you can keep the TAFDC grant and $50 of the child support. The rest of the child support goes to the state.

If the child support is more than the TAFDC grant every month, your TAFDC case will close.

See Can I Get Child Support if I am on TAFDC?. The answer explains more about what happens with child support and TAFDC.

Do I have to help the welfare office get child support from my child's father?

If you get TAFDC, the law says you have to help the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) and the Department of Revenue (DOR) get a child support order against your child’s other parent. But if you are afraid of the other parent, you can ask for a “good cause waiver.” With a “good cause waiver,” you do not have to help the state get child support. You do not even have to give DTA the other parent’s name. You may be able to stop DTA and DOR from going after child support at all.

See I am afraid of the father of my child? The answer explains how to ask for "good cause" so you do not have to give DTA information and/or cooperate with getting child support.

Can I get child support if my child is over 18?

In Massachusetts, you can get child support for any child who is 18 or under.

You also may be able to get child support for a child who is over 18 if:

  • your child is 18, 19, or 20, lives with you, and depends on you for support; or
  • your child is 21 or 22, is going to college or a vocational program, and lives with you when not in school; or
  • your child is over 18 (any age) but cannot support himself or herself because of disability.

Who to call for help

Find Legal Aid

You may be able to get free legal help from your local legal aid program. Or email a question about your own legal problem to a lawyer.

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