How to Calculate Child Support in Maryland (UPDATED: December 2018)
Understanding Child Support in Maryland (Updated from original post on August 30, 2015)
On October 1, 2018, Maryland expanded the mutual consent divorce law to include married couples who have minor children in common. Under the new law, divorcing parents of minor children will be able to forgo the one-year separation period and obtain a divorce on mutual consent grounds as long as certain conditions are met. In addition to the requirement of a written Separation Agreement that resolves all financial issues (property division, alimony, etc.) between the parties, the spouses must also resolve custody, access, and support of the minor children.
No matter what type of divorce you’re seeking, if you have minor children in common with your spouse, it is crucial for you to understand how child support in Maryland is calculated. Understanding your child support rights and responsibilities will help you determine what your household budget will look like, whether you are the parent who will be receiving, or paying, child support in Maryland.
Maryland Child Support Calculator
Years ago, Maryland developed and implemented the Child Support Guidelines, used by the Courts to calculate and establish the amount of child support payable incident to separation and divorce. Under the Maryland Child Support Guidelines, the amount of child support varies if the parents share physical custody. Maryland considers physical custody to be shared when each parent has the child for more than 127 overnights (the unit by which Maryland calculates the percentage of custody held), or over 35% of the year.
Factors that Impact Maryland Child Support Payments
In calculating child support in Maryland, the court will examine these income sources and expenses:
- The actual monthly income of both parents from all sources, including any benefits received (disability, Social Security income), alimony from other former spouses, and/or bonuses
- Costs of health insurance and any health expenses for the child or children that aren’t covered by insurance (counseling, dental work, etc)
- Child care expenses relating to work, including before and after-school programs
A Maryland Circuit Court judge or magistrate will use these Guidelines unless one of the parents can show that doing so would be unjust or inappropriate in that case. Hiring a family law attorney who is experienced with the Maryland Courts and Maryland Child Support Guidelines can help you establish, pay or receive the correct amount of child support appropriate for you and your child(ren). A family law attorney can also help you modify an existing child support obligation if your employment circumstances, income, or custodial circumstances have changed.
Frequently Asked Questions About Child Support in Maryland:
- Do things that I buy for my child when they are with me (clothing, gifts, and other supplies) count toward the child support payments that I owe? No, these items do not offset your child support obligation. For example, your child support payments will not be reduced one month because you bought your child a new wardrobe for back to school, or picked up the tab for piano lessons. The legal amount that you owe is unchanged.
- If my circumstances have changed, can I file a child support modification? Yes, any prior Order entered by the Court relating to child custody, visitation or child support is modifiable if certain conditions are met. However, just because your existing child support order CAN be modified doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily in your best interest to do so. For more information on the factors you should consider before pursuing a child support modification, please click here.
- I pay for my child’s health insurance and my employer just raised my premiums. Does this reduce the amount of child support I’m required to pay? As mentioned above, while health insurance is one of the factors taken into account under the Maryland Child Support Guidelines, sometimes pursuing a child support modification can lead to unexpected outcomes. For example, although your health insurance premiums have increased, has your income gone up as well? It is important that you do your homework and utilize the Child Support Calculator to make sure that you’re seeing the whole picture. For more information on the impact of health insurance costs on child support, click here.
- Since I pay child support, am I able to claim my kids as dependents on my taxes? While it may be logical to expect the dependency exemption to follow the parent that contributes more financially, this is not the case in Maryland. In fact, under IRS guidelines, the custodial parent maintains the right to claim the dependency exemption. In order for the non-custodial parent to claim the child(ren), he or she must attach a copy of IRS Form 8332, signed by the custodial parent, to his or her tax return when filing. However, this issue can get complicated when the parents share custody and have an equal number of overnights with the children. To gain a better understanding of who gets to claim the children on taxes after a divorce, please click here.
Contact an Experienced Child Support Lawyer
If you’re considering a divorce and have minor children with your spouse, contact Coover Law Firm to discuss your rights and responsibilities related to child support in Maryland, to help reach the best result for you and your family. Call us today at (410) 995-1100 or fill out a contact form to schedule an initial with Howard County Family Law Attorney Fred L. Coover, Esquire in our Columbia, MD offices. For directions to our office, please click here.
Disclaimer: The information in this blog post is provided for general educational & informational purposes only. It is not intended to convey legal advice or serve as a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter.