Maryland child support

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Child Support in Maryland

In initial meetings with new clients, the attorneys at Trainor, Billman, Bennett & Milko often hear: “I’ve read that child support in Maryland is determined by a formula. Is that true?”

The simple answer to that question in most cases is “yes.” However, as with many issues in family law, the more accurate answer is that things can be a great deal more complex than simple application of a formula.

Child Support Guidelines in Maryland

In cases in which the parties’ combined, adjusted actual income is less than $15,000 per month, a formula known as the Maryland Child Support Guidelines is utilized to establish monthly child support. The Guidelines take into account each party’s respective gross monthly income from all sources, the number of children, and a few other adjustments to income (including whether a parent is receiving or paying alimony, or whether the obligor is under an existing order or agreement to pay support to other children that are not of the present marriage or relationship). The Guidelines then establish a base amount of monthly support commensurate with the parties’ actual adjusted incomes and the number of children that, under law, is presumptively in the children’s best interests.

Thereafter, other variables are factored into the calculation that impact the bottom-line obligation, including work related child care expenses, the costs of providing health insurance for the minor children, and, on occasion, private school expenses. The cost of these expenses are allocated between the parents in proportion to their respective, adjusted gross incomes.

While this process may appear to be fairly straightforward, the calculation of the Guidelines obligation is only as simple or straightforward as the underlying numbers that are inputted into the formula.

Income and Child Support Obligation

In many cases, a parent’s paystubs or tax returns are not reflective of the individual’s true and actual income. This is common in cases in which the parent is self-employed or has an interest in a business entity. In such cases, we see scenarios in which personal expenses are sometimes run through the business, or a parent keeps income and cash flow within the business instead of distributing it through wages.

In other cases, a parent may be intentionally underemployed for purposes of attempting to reduce the child support obligation (if that parent is the obligor), or for purposes of trying to artificially increase the amount of support (if the parent is the oblige). In such cases, careful efforts must be undertaken to prove the amount of income the parent would actually be capable of earning if employed to a full and reasonable capacity.

Furthermore, the custodial access schedule can significantly impact the child support obligation. In circumstances in which (1) each parent has at least 35% of the overnights per year with the children, and (2) each parent is directly contributing to the expenses of the children, the case is deemed to be a “shared physical custody” case for purposes of child support. In such cases, each parent’s share of the adjusted basic child support obligation is multiplied by the percentage of time the children spend with the other parent. This often results in a child support obligation that is substantially different than what it would have otherwise been in a “sole” physical custody situation. Thus, the ultimate custodial access schedule in a particular case can greatly impact the child support obligation.

Moreover, in cases wherein the parties’ combined, adjusted actual incomes exceed $15,000 per month, the Court is no longer obligated to presumptively apply the Guidelines. Instead, the Maryland Court has significant discretion in setting the child support obligation based upon the children’s reasonable needs and actual family experience.

Protect Your Children’s Best Interests: Contact Our Child Support Lawyers

Our Maryland child support lawyers work directly with our clients to review all relevant circumstances that impact the calculation of child support. Through careful review, analysis, and presentation, we ensure that the child support award is established in the most accurate and fair manner possible. To schedule an initial consultation to discuss your child support case with one of our seasoned child support lawyers, call 410-280-1700 or contact us online. Our offices are conveniently located in downtown Annapolis.

Child Support in Maryland

In initial meetings with new clients, the attorneys at Trainor, Billman, Bennett & Milko often hear: “I’ve read that child support in Maryland is determined by a formula. Is that true?”

The simple answer to that question in most cases is “yes.” However, as with many issues in family law, the more accurate answer is that things can be a great deal more complex than simple application of a formula.

Child Support Guidelines in Maryland

In cases in which the parties’ combined, adjusted actual income is less than $15,000 per month, a formula known as the Maryland Child Support Guidelines is utilized to establish monthly child support. The Guidelines take into account each party’s respective gross monthly income from all sources, the number of children, and a few other adjustments to income (including whether a parent is receiving or paying alimony, or whether the obligor is under an existing order or agreement to pay support to other children that are not of the present marriage or relationship). The Guidelines then establish a base amount of monthly support commensurate with the parties’ actual adjusted incomes and the number of children that, under law, is presumptively in the children’s best interests.

Thereafter, other variables are factored into the calculation that impact the bottom-line obligation, including work related child care expenses, the costs of providing health insurance for the minor children, and, on occasion, private school expenses. The cost of these expenses are allocated between the parents in proportion to their respective, adjusted gross incomes.

While this process may appear to be fairly straightforward, the calculation of the Guidelines obligation is only as simple or straightforward as the underlying numbers that are inputted into the formula.

Income and Child Support Obligation

In many cases, a parent’s paystubs or tax returns are not reflective of the individual’s true and actual income. This is common in cases in which the parent is self-employed or has an interest in a business entity. In such cases, we see scenarios in which personal expenses are sometimes run through the business, or a parent keeps income and cash flow within the business instead of distributing it through wages.

In other cases, a parent may be intentionally underemployed for purposes of attempting to reduce the child support obligation (if that parent is the obligor), or for purposes of trying to artificially increase the amount of support (if the parent is the oblige). In such cases, careful efforts must be undertaken to prove the amount of income the parent would actually be capable of earning if employed to a full and reasonable capacity.

Furthermore, the custodial access schedule can significantly impact the child support obligation. In circumstances in which (1) each parent has at least 35% of the overnights per year with the children, and (2) each parent is directly contributing to the expenses of the children, the case is deemed to be a “shared physical custody” case for purposes of child support. In such cases, each parent’s share of the adjusted basic child support obligation is multiplied by the percentage of time the children spend with the other parent. This often results in a child support obligation that is substantially different than what it would have otherwise been in a “sole” physical custody situation. Thus, the ultimate custodial access schedule in a particular case can greatly impact the child support obligation.

Moreover, in cases wherein the parties’ combined, adjusted actual incomes exceed $15,000 per month, the Court is no longer obligated to presumptively apply the Guidelines. Instead, the Maryland Court has significant discretion in setting the child support obligation based upon the children’s reasonable needs and actual family experience.

Protect Your Children’s Best Interests: Contact Our Child Support Lawyers

Our Maryland child support lawyers work directly with our clients to review all relevant circumstances that impact the calculation of child support. Through careful review, analysis, and presentation, we ensure that the child support award is established in the most accurate and fair manner possible. To schedule an initial consultation to discuss your child support case with one of our seasoned child support lawyers, call 410-280-1700 or contact us online. Our offices are conveniently located in downtown Annapolis.

How Can We Help You?