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What Happens if Someone Fails to Pay Spousal or Child Support in Maryland?

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In the interest of fairness and equity, a Maryland court can order a person to pay spousal or child support on a periodic basis. These support payments help ensure that a spouse and any minor children are able to survive after a divorce or other type of relationship split. Once a Maryland court issues such an order, state law requires full payment and compliance.

What Happens if a Person Fails to Pay Spousal Support?

Under Maryland Code of Family Law Section 10–201, it is unlawful for a spouse to intentionally avoid paying spousal support. However, if a person can demonstrate just cause, they may be able to avoid criminal penalties.

Absent just cause, the failure to pay court-ordered spousal support is a misdemeanor offense. Upon conviction, the offender may face up to three years in prison and $100 in fines. Additionally, a Maryland court may direct the offender to pay all or part of the fine directly to their spouse.

In lieu of or in addition to the criminal penalties above, Maryland Code of Family Law Section 10–202 allows the state courts to:

  • Direct a person to pay spousal support on a periodic basis for up to three years; and
  • Place that person on probation.

When a Maryland court orders a person to pay spousal support, the court must take that person’s financial circumstances into account. Additionally, the court can order the person to make these payments to the spouse directly or through a support enforcement agency. Though the court does have discretion to modify spousal support orders in the interest of fairness.

What Happens if a Person Fails to Pay Child Support?

Under Maryland Code of Family Law Section 10–203, it is unlawful for a parent to intentionally avoid paying child support. It is also unlawful for a parent to desert their minor child or children.

The failure to pay court-ordered child support is a misdemeanor offense. Upon conviction, the offender may face up to three years in prison and $100 in fines.

In lieu of or in addition to the criminal penalties above, Maryland Code of Family Law Section 10–204 allows the state courts to:

  • Direct a person to pay child support on a periodic basis for up to three years; or
  • Order a person to pay child support pursuant to a valid agreement; and
  • Place that person on probation.

When a Maryland court orders a person to pay child support, the court must take that person’s financial circumstances into account. Moreover, the court can order the person to make these payments to the spouse with custody of their minor child or as dictated by a valid agreement. That being said, the state courts have discretion to modify child support orders as needed to preserve fairness.

Contact Us Today for Help

If you need legal help with spousal or child support in Maryland, it can be remarkably useful to contact dependable family law attorney. Based in Bel Air, Maryland, the attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered have more than 55 years of combined legal experience in family and criminal law, including spousal and child support. If you need legal help, contact us today for an initial consultation.

Resource:

mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmStatutesText.aspx?article=gfl&section=10-201&ext=html&session=2019RS

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