Is Child Support Mandatory in Maryland?

Learn about Maryland's mandatory child support guidelines and how they are used to calculate payments.

Is Child Support Mandatory in Maryland?

Both parents have a legal obligation to provide financial support for their children, based on their ability to do so. Since the year 19, Maryland has had child support guidelines in place, which provide a formula for calculating the amount of child support due, based on a proportion of each parent's gross income. This money is intended to cover the child's basic needs, such as housing, food, clothing, and medical expenses. It can also be used to pay for other needs, such as educational expenses, such as tuition, books, supplies and uniforms. Some parents use child support to pay for a child's participation in extracurricular activities, such as sports, clubs, or summer camps.

If you are a divorcing parent or if you have never been married to your child's other parent and are ending the relationship, you may need information about child support. In Maryland, both parents, whether married or not, have an obligation to support their children. In addition to counting real earnings, if a court finds that a parent is choosing not to work or is choosing to work in a job with a lower wage than the one that qualifies for it, it can impute (assign) the income and increase the child support obligation of that parent accordingly. Maryland's child support guidelines allow parents to calculate their maintenance obligation by entering their combined income and the number of children they have together. Potential income is the income attributed to parents based on their employment potential and probable income level, parents' assets, parents' real income from all sources, and any other factor that influences a father's ability to obtain funding for child support.

Child support refers to payments that one parent makes to another to support the couple's child or children. The Maryland Department of Human Resources (DHS) is responsible for helping parents obtain and enforce child support orders, including locating absent parents and establishing paternity, if necessary. By doubling the income threshold, the General Assembly has ensured that more parents meet the deadlines established in the child support law. The joint custody formula begins by multiplying the basic child support obligation (based on the guideline table) by 1.5.While both parents are assigned a percentage of child support under a Maryland order, only the parent who does not have custody will have to pay child support directly to the other parent. If the court determines that applying the guidelines would be unfair or inappropriate, the court may deviate from the guidelines and order a different amount of child support. The Child Support Administration is required by law to review the Child Support Guidelines every 4 years to ensure that they are fair and appropriate when applied.

If the court decides that applying them would be unfair or inappropriate in any way, it can deviate from them and order a different amount of child support. If the child support order departs from the guidelines, the court record or the order itself must include findings that indicate what the scheduled amount would be, how the order differs from that amount, and why the order benefits the children. In Maryland, parents can't simply come to an agreement regarding financial support for their children. The court may also consider the presence in the home of any parent of other children to whom that parent has a maintenance obligation and the expenses for which that parent directly contributes. You can deduct from your real adjusted income any child support or alimony you pay as part of a previous court order.

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