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How Does Maryland Determine Child Support Obligations for Parents?

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The State of Maryland requires all parents to take responsibility for their share of child support obligations. Even if the parents are divorced or never married, they must ensure that their children receive adequate support for shelter, nutrition, medical care, and similar needs. In order to determine a fair and reasonable amount of child support, there is a fixed set of guidelines under Maryland law.

What are the Child Support Obligation Guidelines?

Under Maryland Code of Family Law Section 12-204, there are guidelines in place to determine a proper and fair obligation for child support. These child support guidelines take into account the total income from all sources for each parent. Using those combined income figures, plus other applicable child care expenses, Maryland law dictates a monthly amount for child support.

For example, if the combined income of both parents is:

  • $100-$1,200 — Then the guidelines mandate a monthly child support obligation of $20 to $150 monthly, factoring in resources, living expenses, and number of children;
  • $2,500 — Then the guidelines mandate a monthly child support obligation of $478 for one child with proportional increases for each additional child;
  • $5,000 — Then the guidelines mandate a monthly child support obligation of $852 for one child with proportional increases for each additional child;
  • $10,000 — Then the guidelines mandate a monthly child support obligation of $1,271 for one child with proportional increases for each additional child; and
  • $15,000 — Then the guidelines mandate a monthly child support obligation of $1,942 for one child with proportional increases for each additional child.

Under Section 12-204, the child support guidelines only extend to $15,000 of combined income for both parents.  If the parents exceed that level of combined income, the Maryland state courts have the authority to determine a proper and fair amount of child support obligation.

Are the Child Support Guidelines Mandatory?

Under Maryland Code of Family Law Section 12-202, the state courts follow the child support guidelines to determine the financial responsibility for both parents. This is true whether the child support order is temporary or permanent. In most cases, the child support guidelines are deemed to be accurate and fair.

That being said, it is possible to argue against the use of the child support guidelines. To do so, either parent must demonstrate that the use of the child support guidelines would result in an unfair or unreasonable outcome. In these situations, the Maryland courts are allowed to consider the:

  • Conditions of any existing marital separation agreement, court order, or settlement agreement that address payment of child support obligations; and
  • The financial burden of directly caring for and supporting other children living in the same household.

After considering the factors above, the Maryland state courts must decide whether application of the child support guidelines would be fair and reasonable. If not, the state courts may override the guidelines and order a different child support obligation for each parent.

Let Us Help You Today

If you have legal questions about child support obligations in Maryland, it can be extraordinarily valuable to speak with a dedicated family law attorney. The Bel Air child support attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered have more than 60 years of combined legal experience in family and criminal law, including child support obligations. If you need legal help, contact us today for an initial consultation.

 

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