Maryland Child Support Mediation Lawyer
Child Support in Maryland, is governed by the Maryland Child Support Guidelines law (“the Guidelines”). Read the Law: Maryland Child Support law is found in Md. Code, Fam. Law Title 12.
Mediating Child Support matters in Maryland and across the country makes economic sense. The formula of the Guidelines leaves little room for conflict. In Maryland, both parents are legally obligated to support their children. In general the parties cannot agree to “waive” child support. It is a right belonging to the children. The Guidelines apply where the parents were married, divorced or separated, or never married. Child Support is not taxable to the parent receiving the support and is not tax deductible to the paying parent.
In general, both parties must provide their children with direct support (i.e. food, clothing, shelter and medical care) when a child or the children are in each parent’s home. The Guidelines formula for calculating child support is based on the proportions of each parent's gross income. Where the parties earn a combined gross, monthly income of $15,000.00 or less, the Guidelines are presumed to apply unless a party can prove the resulting calculations are unjust and inappropriate. For couples earning a combined monthly income of more than $15,000.00, a court has authority to determine the precise award. Often the Guidelines are simply extrapolated to reflect the higher incomes.
If a party is resisting mediation for Child Support in Maryland cases, the parties have other remedies available but steps must be taken to secure the Child Support order from the court. The party seeking child support from the Court must file a petition/complaint. Child Support may be ordered by a court only retroactive to the date of the filing When will the guidelines calculate zero child support? An example would be where the parties had equal custodial overnights + equal income + equal sharing of major child expenses (i.e. child care costs, medical costs, transportation costs, private school). Except where the higher earner has sole physical custody, the higher earner will be calculated to owe some sum of child support to the lower earner.
Some factors utilized to calculate Child Support are:
Each parent’s monthly gross income from all sources (including 2nd jobs, overtime, bonuses, side businesses, dividends, certain employment benefits);
Whether Child Support for a different child/children from another relationship is being paid by court order or by contract;
Whether Alimony is being paid in this case or from a prior marriage;
The Physical Custody of the Child/Children (including regular schedule, holidays and vacations;
The Cost of Health Insurance for the Child/Children;
The Cost of extraordinary health care expenses of the Child/Children;
The presence of a child/children in his/her household under the age of 2;
Whether a party is voluntarily earning less than he or she is capable of earning;
The Cost of Transportation Costs for the Child/Children to see both parents (referring to airplane/train tickets, etc.);
Work-related Child Care expenses (often very expensive);
Costs like tutoring, private school, music lessons;
Income of the Child (i.e. from Social Security);
Voluntary contributions to support the Child like paying for college or life insurance to benefit the Child upon the death of a parent.
Child Support may be adjusted over the lifetime of the Child. In mediation, the parties often agree to control review periods of Child Support to avoid costly litigation. For example, an Agreement may provide for a review at key junctures, such as when one of the children reaches the age of majority. The mediated Child Support agreement will likely state that the parties will voluntarily make all required financial disclosure necessary to make the calculation. After Child Support is ordered in Maryland, the Court also has authority to change the award (the court “retains jurisdiction”) based on substantial changes to the parties’ incomes or the Child’s expenses, or changes in custody arrangements.
A person can be jailed if he or she does not pay ordered Child Support and/or wages can be garnished. Any parent can force the non-supporting parent to pay the required Child Support. Free services are available with The Maryland Department of Human Resources, Maryland Child Support Enforcement Program:
311 West Saratoga Street, Baltimore, MD 21201
Maryland Department of Human Resources Website
In conclusion, payment of child support in Maryland is easy to calculate, difficult to impossible to avoid, and a legal and moral obligation of a parent to his or her Child, regardless of the marital status of the parents. As such, determining Child Support with the assistance of a Mediator at settlement table is often the least stressful approach. Let Attorney and Mediator, Nancy Caplan, Esquire affordably guide your family to a fair and practical result to your mediated Child Support issues in Maryland.