At some point during a divorce, the couple must address a number of very important questions. Who will pay for their children’s medical bills? Who will make decisions regarding the child’s social and financial well-being? Who will bear financial responsibility for specific aspects of the child’s upbringing? Who will pay for the child’s medical and dental insurance? Child support law in Maryland sets guidelines for evaluating each parent’s individual circumstances and determining how much parents must pay to meet their children’s needs. Divorce law in Maryland can be very confusing, so we have provided a general explanation below.
An Overview Of Child Support Law In Maryland
Both parents have an obligation to support their child until they reach 18 years of age, or until they turn 19 if they have not yet graduated from high school. If parents have separated and cannot reach an agreement on their own, decisions about the division of this shared responsibility fall to the court. Monetary support is provided by both the custodial and the non-custodial parent. When child support is awarded, one parent provides a set amount of money to the other parent to pay for the child’s care.
Child support law in Maryland determines the amount of child support that each parent is required to provide. The amount of financial contribution required by each parent depends on a number of factors. A judge will examine each parent’s individual financial situation, including their actual monthly income and adjusted actual income. Using these guidelines, the court attempts to determine the appropriate amount that each parent would spend on their children if they were living together. The final calculation is based on guidelines for child support in Maryland.
For more information about caring for your children during a divorce, read our article on child custody and visitation rights in Maryland.
How Does The Court Decide?
Child support law in Maryland requires judges to examine many factors when making a decision. These factors include each parent’s actual and adjusted monthly income, the division of custody, and the children’s financial needs. A calculation that takes all these factors and legal guidelines into account determines the amount of child support.
Actual monthly income includes your salary and wages as well as other income sources like bonuses. Consideration of your actual monthly income automatically excludes any income you receive from public assistance programs such as food stamps or Supplemental Security. A parent’s adjusted actual income is their monthly income after child support and alimony that the parent already pays for other children have been deducted.
A judge may also take into account a variety of other factors, including:
- Work-related child expenses, such as day care or aftercare
- Health insurance expenses for the child
- Additional (or extraordinary) medical expenses that are not normally covered by insurance, such as dental work, physical therapy, counseling, or asthma treatments
In addition, each parent who asks for child support is required to submit a financial statement to the court. This statement helps the judge make a fair and informed decision about what is best for all the children who are involved. If you are applying for child support, it is critical that you speak with an attorney and submit a full, honest statement of your financial situation to avoid any issues.
The system described above is merely a guideline. If the parents’ combined income is substantial, courts sometimes fix child support payments above the guideline requirements in order to serve the children’s needs. The court is also able to set child support at a lower amount if the parent can prove that the standard amount is unfair.
A variety of child support worksheets are available online. You may also be able to pick up copies at your local circuit court clerk’s office or family law clinic. If you’d like to learn more about child support law in Maryland or want an attorney’s help with your child support needs, please contact the experienced attorneys at Zirkin and Schmerling Law at 410-753-4611.