In Maryland, many parents mistakenly believe that child support ends when a child turns 18. However, the state requires that child support payments continue until the child graduates from high school, even if they are over 18 years of age at that time. During the term of a child support order, parents can request a modification of the amount they pay or receive. Maryland uses an income-sharing model to calculate child support, known as the Maryland Child Support Guidelines. The court retains the authority to create and modify child support orders, as well as to maintain the integrity of parenting plans drawn up by parents or the court.
However, the party that wishes to modify them has the burden of demonstrating that there has been a substantial change in the circumstances that justifies the modification of alimony. Unpaid alimony could be declared to all three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian), which in turn can negatively affect your credit rating. If one parent has primary physical custody of the minor children and the other parent has fewer than 92 overnight stays during the year, the primary physical custody guidelines worksheet will be used to calculate child support. Advocates for the new child support guidelines argue that the lack of revision of existing child support guidelines has forced custodial parents to bear a greater burden due to rising family expenses, including housing expenses, which have historically been above the average in Maryland. The income-sharing model is based on the concept that the child should receive the same proportion of parental income as they would have received in an intact family. Critics of the revised guidelines argue that Maryland's child support guidelines were initially drafted to take into account annual inflation, since the matrix is based on the gross income of the parties, which increases with the cost of living.
Couples can proactively decide who will pay child support and the amounts and intervals of payment as part of their marriage settlement agreement. Finally, a provision has been eliminated to the effect that the adoption or revision of child support guidelines is a reason to request a modification of alimony if the use of the revised guidelines would result in a change in allowance of 25 percent or more. For Maryland and any state that balances its desire to increase alimony with harsh economic reality, legislation can be a double-edged sword for parents who must manage rising payments with diminishing incomes. Under both old and new law, certain areas are left to court's discretion, so advocates will vigorously argue. In addition, courts may require continued parental support for children with special needs who are unable to support themselves as adults. As an example, child support when aggregate monthly income was above limit was always discretionary.
In 1990, Maryland General Assembly passed law establishing guidelines for child support in Maryland in all cases, providing standardized approach to establishing alimony in state as long as parties' income matches matrix of guideline.