Child Support is money given by one parent to another to help with the support of their child or children. Child support payments are meant to help provide financial support for housing, utilities, clothing, food, activities and other usual expenses incurred in raising a child. Under Maryland law, the courts are required to apply the Maryland Child Support Guidelines to determine child support. Unless the court makes a specific finding that the use of the guidelines would be inappropriate in a case, the court is required to use the Child Support Guidelines. In almost all cases, the courts use the Guidelines to determine child support. The Child Support Guidelines determine the amount of child support using a formula that considers the total monthly income of both parents, the number of nights that the child or children are with each parent, and the cost to each parent of certain expenses, including medical insurance, extraordinary medical expenses, work-related child care and education. From this information, the Child Support Guidelines produce a support number to be paid by one parent to another.
An attorney can be very helpful in a child support case to ensure that the income being considered by the courts for purposes of calculation of child support is correct. The calculations can be easily skewed one way or the other if a parent forgets to include expenses they are paying or if income is missing from the calculation.
Child support can also be modified by the Courts where there has been a material change in circumstances. Loss of a job by either parent, or other material change in monthly earnings by either parent including one parent returning to work, may be a sufficient change to warrant a modification.
Failure to pay child support can have serious results. The Maryland Department of Human Resources, Child Support Enforcement Administration is the state agency that assists parents with the enforcement of child support orders. It is also possible to file in the Circuit Court for enforcement and contempt. If it is requested of the court at the time the order is drafted by the Judge, the Court may order that all child support be paid through the Maryland Child Support Enforcement Office. This office tracks the child support payments which can be used as evidence in a child support case. Failure to pay child support can have serious penalties, including revocation of the delinquent parent’s driver’s license, the revocation of other state professional licenses, the assessment of fines, and even imprisonment. A Court can also order child support to be automatically withdrawn from a parent’s payroll.