Child Support in Maryland
Child Support is a court order specifying an amount of money that must be paid each month to help support a child’s living expenses. In Maryland, both parents of a child are responsible for financially providing for the needs of his or her child. To obtain a child support order, when parents separate or divorce, one of them must ask the court to make an order of child support if they cannot make an agreement themselves (even then, the court must approve the child support order). After a child support order is made, the payments are usually made until the children are emancipated. Child support orders may be modified due to changed circumstances throughout the child’s life.
In Maryland, there are specific guidelines for the courts to follow to determine the proper amount of child support that must be paid if the family’s combined income is below $180,000 (if the combined income of the family is in excess of this amount, the calculation of child support becomes more complicated). The calculations automatically consider a number of factors, including the income of each parent, how many children there are and how much time each parent spends with the children. Child support orders may also include specifications as to the division of payment for extracurricular activities, schooling expenses, child care expenses, health insurance and other medical bills.
When the child is born in a marriage, the law automatically assumes that the husband and wife are the parents. If the child is born to an unmarried couple, the first step is to establish paternity. Paternity can be established by the father signing a voluntary declaration or by utilizing genetic testing. Once paternity has been established, a court can order a parent to pay the other child support.
Maryland has a statewide formula used for determining the appropriate amount of child support to be paid. The parents are allowed to agree to a child support amount on their own, but the court must approve this amount of support if asked to incorporate child support into a court order. However, neither parent can simply waive child support. The court will always retain the power to order one parent to pay the other child support. If the parents of the child cannot agree to a child support amount, the judge will decide the proper amount based on guideline calculations.
The child support guidelines consider the following factors:
- How much money each parent earns, or is able to earn.
- How many children the parents have with each other.
- The amount of time each parent spends with the child(ren).
- Support of children from other relationships.
- Health insurance expenses for the child(ren).
- The cost of sharing work-related childcare and uninsured health-care costs.
- Other factors that are less common.
Only a judge can deviate from the guideline amount of child support in limited circumstances. I will help inform you of your rights or obligations for the payment or receipt of child support. Together we can run a guideline child support calculation for you to help you align your expectations with the actual amount. If you feel like you are overpaying child support or support, or if support is being underpaid, call me and I will help determine whether a child support order modification is appropriate.