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Morales v. Morales, 464 Mass. 507, 984 N.E. 2d 748 (2013)

In Morales v. Morales, the Supreme Judicial Court held that a modification of child support is presumptively in order whenever there is an inconsistency between the amount of child support that is to be paid under the existing order and the amount that would be paid under an application of the child support guidelines. The Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the trial court had erred in requiring a material change in circumstances.

The parties divorced in 2008. Their divorce judgment provided that they share joint legal custody and the mother have physical custody of the child. The father was ordered to pay weekly child support. Approximately one year later, the father received a promotion and raise at work, and the mother filed a modification seeking an increase in support. The trial court found there was no material change in circumstances and that no modification was warranted.

M.G.L. c.  208, § 28 provides that a child support order “shall” be modified, “if there is an inconsistency between the amount of the existing order and the amount that would result from application of the child support guidelines. . . .” The Supreme Judicial Court held that a modification is presumptively required whenever there is such an inconsistency, and that there is no separate and additional requirement that the discrepancy or inconsistency result from a material change in circumstances.