The custodial parent will pay child support by providing them with what is normally provided when one or more children live with one of their parents, such as food, clothing, housing, transportation, entertainment, utilities, etc. For example, low-income parents can benefit from the widest range of income, in which judges are advised to assign a minimum child support pension. This method for calculating child support is simple: a fixed percentage of the non-custodial parent's income is paid monthly to the custodial parent to cover basic child support expenses. While Maryland's new child support guidelines have caused some consternation and confusion among lawyers, courts and parents, the path to follow to ensure that the benefits of the new guidelines are fully harnessed and risks are mitigated requires, at a minimum, recognition of and familiarity with the current debate and confusion.
In cases involving higher incomes, the court has broad discretion to establish the maintenance obligation. While the state of Maryland does not explicitly require that college expenses be covered by child alimony, both parties can voluntarily agree to support college expenses by the non-custodial parent, after which it is contractually enforceable. 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 increased family expenses, including housing expenses, which have historically been above the average in Maryland. Other special situations covered by Maryland's child support law include child care costs and extraordinary medical costs.
Maryland has specialized guidelines for sharing the extraordinary costs of a child's health care that are separate and in addition to basic child support payments. Critics of the revised guidelines argue that Maryland's child support guidelines were initially written 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. Child support arrears are the amount of child support that the non-custodial parent delays or fails to pay to the custodial parent. Another option is to determine the standard of living enjoyed by the child while married and try to equalize it through the obligation of maintenance.
If the monthly income of the non-custodial parent changes, the dollar amount he pays for child support will also change. Under IRS guidelines, the child support beneficiary does not need to pay federal taxes on child support payments, and the child support payer cannot deduct their child support payments. The ambiguity focuses on whether the new guidelines apply to any case processed after October 1 or only to cases filed after October 1, not to mention the confusion that exists regarding requests for retroactive modification of alimony. Different courts may adopt different interpretations of the new legislation on child support guidelines and to which cases the new guidelines apply.