Support orders shouldn’t be used to equalize income, court says

The purpose of a child support order is to support then children fairly, not to equalize the income of the two parents, according to the highest court in Massachusetts.

In this case, the parents never married, but they were living together when their daughter was born. Both parents’ incomes exceeded the levels to which the state’s child-support guidelines automatically applied.

After the couple separated, the mother filed a paternity action and asked for child support.

Even though the couple shared custody and had comparable standards of living, a judge applied an “income-equalization” formula and ordered that the father pay almost $500 a week in support.

The father appealed, and the state Supreme Court sided with him.

A child support order should prevent a “gross disparity” between a non-custodial parent’s standard of living and that of the child, the court said. But the law doesn’t allow a judge to simply equalize the two parents’ incomes.