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Child Support in Maryland: Frequently Asked Questions

How is child support in Maryland calculated?

Maryland has child support guidelines.  These guidelines include a basic mathematical formula used for determining child support in Maryland.  The calculation is based on each parent’s gross income.

Are there exceptions to the standard calculation?

Yes.  If the combined income of both parents is more than $15,000 per month, the courts make child support determinations based on the needs of the children.

Additionally, parties have the opportunity to establish the guidelines are inappropriate or unjust in a particular case.   However, these situations are rare.

Are there other forms of child support in Maryland, besides a mathematical formula for income?

Yes.  Child support may also include providing health insurance and dental insurance, or a portion of the cost of the same.  Additionally, child support can cover:

  • A life insurance policy;
  • Daycare;
  • Uninsured medical expenses and orthodontia; or
  • Travel for visitation, such as plane or train tickets.

What is a financial declaration and why do I have to sign it “under penalty of perjury?”

A financial declaration is a document each parent fills out that discloses all sources of income.  This can include:

  • Salary;
  • Bonuses;
  • Tips;
  • Alimony; and, in some cases,
  • Income earned by a new spouse or significant other.

Additionally, a financial declaration includes bank accounts, real property, and investments, as well as each parent’s financial obligations.

Financial declarations are signed under penalty of perjury, which means they are sworn statements.  Requiring the statement be signed under penalty of perjury reduces the likelihood a parent will omit or minimize their financial holdings.  Perjury is an offense that comes with both criminal and civil penalties.  In other words, a person who misleads the court in a document signed under penalty of perjury may face jail time as well as fines as a consequence of their misrepresentation.

I am paying child support in Maryland.  Can I deduct these payments from my income for tax purposes?

No.  Child support may not be subtracted from income for tax purposes.  Similarly, child support is not considered income for the parent receiving it.   This is true for both state and federal taxes.

I am currently paying child support in Maryland.  I would like a detailed accounting of where my ex is spending this money, so I am certain it is going directly to the children.

Child support is, by its very nature, designed to support the child.  This can include paying the mortgage, heat and other utilities, clothing, and purchasing groceries.   Child support can also contribute to the cost of tuition, school fees for participation in music or art classes, after-school activities, etc.  You are not entitled to a detailed accounting of where your ex spends the child  support money you provide.

What happens if someone is court ordered to pay child support in Maryland, but doesn’t?

Ideally, a parent ordered to pay child support will do so willingly.  However, there are cases where parents refuse to pay their court-ordered child support.  There are a few options to obtain this support.  Under the law, courts have the power to do the following in these circumstances:

  • Directly withhold child support from wages;
  • Directly withhold child support from unemployment benefits;
  • Intercept state and federal tax refunds;
  • Directly withhold child support from worker’s compensation claims;
  • Intercept Maryland state lottery winnings;
  • Garnish accounts, such as checking and savings accounts.

Other potential consequences courts may consider imposing on a nonpaying noncustodial parent include:

  • Reporting the amount past due to the credit bureaus;
  • Refer the case to the Motor Vehicle Administration for possible driver’s license suspension;
  • Request the renewal or issuance of a passport be denied;
  • Request the suspension of a professional or recreational license.

If my ex violates the visitation order and doesn’t let me see the kids, do I have to pay child support in Maryland?  Alternatively, if my ex doesn’t pay child support, do I have to allow visitation?

Many people believe child support and visitation are somehow tied together.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Typically, courts address both child support and visitation in the divorce decree.  However, one is not contingent on the other.  An obligation to pay child support is an obligation in an of itself.  The court order similarly governs the right to visitation with your children.  A visitation order cannot be ignored because child support is not being paid (or for any other reason).

Can a child support order be adjusted?

Yes.  Courts can adjust child support up or down.  Courts make adjustments based on the facts and circumstances of a particular case.   However, not every raise or lost bonus merits a request for an adjustment in child support obligations.  Consult a family law attorney to discuss whether it might be worth making a request to modify child support based on your facts.

Can a parent quit a job to avoid paying child support in Maryland?

No.  Intentional unemployment or intentional underemployment cannot be a basis to reduce or eliminate a child support obligation.

I never married the father of my child.  Can I still get child support in Maryland?

Yes.  Child support is for all children whose parents are not raising the child together. Whether the child was conceived and born into a marriage, the result of an affair, or from two people who are not a couple now for any reason, child support remains an obligation and a right.

If You Have Questions About Child Support

If you are considering a divorce, or if you have questions about child support, contact the office of Fait & DiLima.  Our attorneys and staff focus exclusively on family law issues.  We have extensive experience in both establishing and, where appropriate, revisiting child support issues.  Let us help you and your family.  Contact our office for a consultation today.

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