Divorce is never easy, but the process can be even more complicated and emotional when children are involved. As a parent, you must support your children even if you are no longer married to or in a relationship with the other parent.
Even if you were never married to your child’s other parent, you still have obligations and rights regarding child support. When it comes to calculating and understanding your legal rights and obligations, it is imperative that you speak with a qualified and experienced Howard County child support lawyer.
Fred L. Coover, Esquire of Coover Law Firm, LLC in Howard County can help you in this challenging time. Call (410) 553-5042 today.
Important Aspects of Child Support Payments
There are several important elements of child support payments that you should keep in mind:
- The paying parent will almost always be ordered to make monthly payments to the parent with custody of the child (custodial parent).
- Child support must be made via direct money payment to the custodial parent. The paying parent cannot send money directly to the child.
- The court retains the authority to change the child support order. It’s important to understand that these orders are not concrete and can be amended if conditions change.
- Payment ends automatically when the child turns 18, dies, or becomes emancipated. Usually, a child will only be granted emancipation if they are married or self-supporting.
Maryland child support laws are often confusing for families and require a great deal of effort to work through. For assistance in determining and complying with state laws, contact a Howard County child support lawyer at Coover Law Firm today.
Maryland Child Support Guidelines
The Maryland Child Support Guidelines are a helpful tool for understanding your rights and obligations. These guidelines are the formula that Maryland employs to determine how much the custodial parent should receive and how much the non-custodial parent should have to pay.
Parents might also have shared physical custody (parents that have children overnight for more than 35% of the year). The guideline amounts will change depending on the parents’ income and the number of children to be supported.
2020 Update to Child Support Law
A new statute regarding sole custody and shared custody took effect on October 1, 2020. Prior to the change, “shared physical custody” meant that the parent without custody had the child in their care overnight more than 35% of the time (128 overnights each year). If the non-custodial parent had the child less than 35% of the time (less than 127 overnights each year), then sole custody guidelines went into effect.
Under the new statute, shared custody is applicable when the non-custodial parent has the child more than 30% of the time (100 or more overnights each year). The statute also limits the number of overnights from 35 to 25% of the time, meaning sole custody guidelines only apply in cases where the non-custodial parent has the child for less than 92 overnights per year.
This change will only apply to cases filed on or after October 1, 2020. To avoid confusion and possible mistakes in calculating support, consult with a Howard County child support lawyer at Coover Law Firm.
Factors in Determining Maryland Child Support
Courts will look at both parents’ financial situations and determine the amount of child support payable. The guidelines consider several factors in determining the amount:
Determine the parents’ actual income before taxes.
Actual income includes wages, salaries, Social Security benefits, workers’ compensation benefits, bonuses, dividends, commissions, disability benefits, interest income, and trust income.
Determine the adjusted monthly income.
Adjusted monthly income is actual income less support obligations actually paid and alimony obligations already paid.
Work-related child care expenses.
This includes daycare.
Health insurance and extraordinary medical expenses.
Any uninsured medical expense over $100, including dental treatments, orthodontic work, physical therapy, and mental health counseling.
These are just some of the considerations to keep in mind when calculating the amount of child support payable under Maryland law. If you are seeking or challenging a deviation from the Maryland Child Support Guidelines, make sure you are represented by an experienced Maryland Family Law lawyer.
Child Support: More Than a Check
Child support isn’t limited to direct money payments. Many orders often address other needs, such as:
- Maintaining the child’s beneficiary status on health and life insurance policies
- Paying the full cost of after school daycare
- Paying for transportation costs to the parent with visitation rights (round-trip plane tickets, gas, etc.)
An experienced Howard County child support lawyer will help you navigate this stressful time and ensure both parties are acting in the child’s best interests. Call Coover Law Firm today at (410) 553-5042 for more information.
Experienced Family Law Attorney Ready to Answer Your Child Support Questions
Questions regarding your specific situation should be directed to an experienced Howard County family lawyer like Fred L. Coover, Esquire. With over 35 years of experience, Fred L. Coover, Esquire of Coover Law Firm, LLC can help answer all of your questions relating to Maryland child support payments and obligations.
If you have child support questions or concerns, contact Coover Law Firm, LLC in Columbia, Maryland to schedule a paid consultation at (410) 553-5042.