Is It A Crime To Fail To Pay Child Support In Maryland?
Under Maryland family law, child support ensures that minor children have the resources necessary for their physical and emotional well-being. Typically, child support obligations arise out of a court order or a valid agreement between parents. Once this type of obligation is officially recognized, it can be a criminal offense to fail to pay support in Maryland.
Failure to Support Minor Child
Maryland Code of Family Law Section 10-203 establishes the laws against and penalties for failure to support a minor child. If the Maryland courts order a parent to make child support payments, Section 10-203 prohibits that parent from a willful failure to provide the necessary support.
Any parent who violates Section 10-203 by failing to provide child support is guilty of misdemeanor. Upon conviction for this misdemeanor, the maximum punishment includes 36 months in prison and $100 in fines.
Desertion of Minor Child
Maryland Code of Family Law Section 10-219 furnishes the laws against and penalties for desertion of a minor child. This section prohibits any person with care, custody, or control of a minor child from deserting that child. More specifically, desertion under this section applies if the offender:
- Intends for the child to become a public charge supported by the state; or
- Fails to provide at least three years of child support by a licensed child care facility or a responsible individual.
- Any person who violates Section 10-219 by deserting a minor child is guilty of misdemeanor. Upon conviction for this misdemeanor, the maximum punishment includes 12 months in prison and $100 in fines.
Enforcement of Child Support
Maryland Code of Family Law Section 10-204 supplies an enforcement mechanism for child support obligations. Instead of or in addition to the penalty above for a violation of Section 10-203, the Maryland courts may:
- Order the offender to pay child support over a period of 36 months;
- Require the offender to pay child support in accordance with a valid agreement; or
- Place the offender on probation, subject to a recorded obligation.
In this context, the offender must make payments to:
- The person who has custody of the minor child in question; or
- The recipient designated in a valid agreement, if such a legal contract exists.
Maryland Code of Family Law Section 10-206 clarifies that any court order to pay child support owed is considered a lien on earnings. Upon receipt of such a lien, a person’s employer must:
- Deduct the amount of the lien from that person’s earnings on a regular basis; and
- Send the deducted amount to the appropriate support enforcement agency.
In taking this type of action, the Maryland courts must consider the financial circumstances of the offender in question. The courts must ensure that any payments are fair and equitable. Though the Maryland courts may modify or change the terms of any child support obligation in the interest of fairness and equity.
Do You Need Legal Help?
If you need legal assistance with child support obligations, the Bel Air child support attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered can help. Reach out to us today for a consultation.