Child support refers to the financial payments made by the non-custodial parent — or the parent with fewer childcare responsibilities — to the parent who mainly cares for the child. This money can be spent on a variety of child-rearing expenses, including essentials like food, clothing, healthcare, and educational and recreational needs.
Whether you are the support receiving or paying parent, skilled Baltimore child support lawyers at Parker, Pallett, Slezak & Russell, LLC can help you negotiate the best possible outcome or represent you vigorously in court. To schedule a free consultation, call us at (410) LAW-YERS or contact us online.
How Child Support Payments are Calculated in Maryland
To calculate the appropriate child support amount, both parents’ salaries, wages, bonuses, pensions, social security benefits, and any other sources of income are considered. If one parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, the court may calculate child support based on their potential income, i.e., what they could earn based on their skills, education, and job opportunities.
If your combined income with the other parent exceeds $19,200 annually, you may see an increase in the amount of child support calculated under the new 2022 guidelines. This is designed to more accurately reflect the costs of raising a child given current economic conditions.
Maryland child support guidelines are meant to ensure that your child’s standard of living is maintained as much as possible following your separation or divorce. A child support lawyer can explain the expenses that are factored in when determining child support to ensure financial stability. These may include:
- Basic living expenses such as food, groceries, and clothing
- Housing costs, including rent or mortgage and utility bills
- Health insurance premiums
- Out-of-pocket medical expenses (co-pays and deductibles)
- Dental and vision care
- School fees, school supplies and books, uniforms
- Extracurricular activities and associated costs
- Daycare and babysitting costs
- Costs related to after-school care programs
- Daily transportation needs (e.g., to school, appointments)
- Travel expenses for visitations if parents live far apart
- Recreational activities, sports equipment, and fees
- Entertainment costs, like outings and hobbies
- Personal care items
- Costs related to special needs, if the child has any
The non-custodial parent is typically the one who makes child support payments to the custodial parent, but the actual arrangement can depend on the custody situation and each parent’s financial circumstances.
If both parents have the child for more than 35% of the time (which is considered shared physical custody), the calculation is adjusted. The more time the non-custodial parent spends with the child, the lower their payment obligation may be.
Modification of Child Support Payments
Child support laws in Maryland allow parents to change the amount of support they pay if they can provide sufficient evidence that their circumstances have changed drastically since the original order. Some of the most common scenarios that warrant a modification are:
- Change in income (job loss, new job, promotion, or pay cut)
- Extraordinary medical expenses (related to the parent or child)
- Increases or decreases in daycare or after-school expenses
- Adjustments in the child’s living arrangements
- Changes in school fees or special educational needs
- Impact on one parent’s earning and support ability
- Change in financial responsibilities of a parent (remarriage/new children)
- Substantial shifts in living expenses
Remember, you will need to provide solid proof of the changed circumstances. For example, to show the change in your income, the court will need the pay stubs showing current income, an employment termination letter, tax returns, or bank statements.
How Long Do You Have To Pay Child Support in Maryland?
As a noncustodial parent, you are legally obligated to pay support until the child reaches the age of 18. But if they are still in high school when they turn 18, an appropriate amount of child support payments are required to continue until they graduate from high school or turn 19, whichever occurs first.
If your kid has special needs or disabilities that require ongoing child care and financial support, payments may extend beyond the age of 18. This is assessed on a case-by-case basis so it’s best to consult with a child support attorney.
Get Dedicated Child Support Lawyers Maryland on Your Side Today
At Parker, Pallett, Slezak & Russell, LLC, our skilled child support lawyers in Maryland work tirelessly in the best interests of parents and their children across a spectrum of child support issues. Our legal team — consisting of a retired judge, a former police officer, and a former state prosecutor — has helped parents on both sides in preparing, modifying, and enforcing child support arrangements. For a free and confidential consultation with our family law office, call us at (410) LAW-YERS or fill out this contact form.