Child Support Determination
Child support in Maryland is determined by a set formula codified into the Maryland Annotated Code and referred to as the Maryland Child Support Guidelines. Maryland Child Support Guidelines calculate child support based on the time the children spend with each parent, each parent’s respective gross incomes (pre-tax), the number of children, and certain child-related expenses, including work-related childcare, health insurance, other medical expenses, and school-related costs. There are formulas for the Maryland Child Support Guidelines for full and shared custody. Shared custody applies to custody arrangements with both parents having at least 128 overnight visits with the child(ren) per year.
Termination of Child Support
Child support typically ends when a child reaches the age of eighteen. However, in circumstances where a child turns eighteen while in high school, then child support continues until the first to occur of the child graduating from high school or the child reaching the age of nineteen.
The Maryland Child Support Guidelines represent the minimum amount of child support courts will allow without extenuating circumstances. Parents can certainly agree to pay a higher amount of child support by entering into a Consent Order or Separation Agreement, both of which are enforceable by court order.
If Child Support is not paid as Ordered by the Court
If child support is not being paid, the parent who is owed child support may file an action in the Circuit Court or through the Maryland Child Support Enforcement Agency. If successful, the filing parent is entitled to child support through an Earnings Withholding Order which will automatically deduct child support from the paycheck of the parent owing child support. If there is an issue with unpaid or back-owed child support, the Maryland Child Support Enforcement Agency will attempt to collect these payments either by notifying authorities to intercept tax refunds or by suspending the parent’s driver’s license.
Changes to Child Support
Child support can be changed or “modified” if a “material change in circumstances” has occurred since the last child support order. Examples of a “material change in circumstances” include: a child reaching age of majority, changes in either parent’s income, the expenses regarding the child(ren), and any extraordinary medical expenses or school expenses.