Child support is a crucial financial tool for tens of thousands of children and their custodial parents across the state of Maryland. Ensuring that the amount of child support is legally adequate, and that it is paid on time, is important. But how is child support calculated? Child support is based on the following information, as per Maryland §12–204:
- Each parent’s actual income;
- Number of children the support is going to; and
- Extra expenses, such as daycare and health insurance.
Child support is based on the total child support obligation—the total monthly cost to raise the child. The parent with the child support order must pay a certain percentage of this child support obligation. To figure what the number is, each parent’s adjusted actual income must be determined. Next, the parents’ adjusted actual income is combined and put into Maryland’s Guidelines chart to determine what the non-custodial parent owes. Additional factors that the court may use to determine child support include:
- Whether or not the custodial parent is receiving alimony or spousal maintenance;
- Is custody shared or sole? A parent’s support obligation can be reduced if they have physical custody for at least 35 percent of the time under §12–202;
- How many nights per month does the child spend with the paying parent?
- Age of the child (courts can still order child support payments if the child is not a minor);
- Educational expenses, including private school tuition or special educational needs; and
When Maryland’s Guidelines Are Not Applicable
The above guidelines for calculating child support may not be followed if one of the parties is able to show that the “guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate in a particular case.” Additionally, the guidelines are not used when the combined income of the parents is greater than $15,000 per month. In this case, the child support is based on the child’s needs. For example, a single parent earning minimum wage could petition the court to order a much larger support order than the guidelines permit if the paying parent was earning a million dollars a year in adjusted actual income. In such cases, the decision will be left to the court to decide how much the paying parent should be obligated to pay, based on the child’s needs.
Can Child Support be Lower Than the Guidelines?
Child support could be lower than the Guidelines only when the paying parent can convince the court that it is in their child’s best interest to reduce their child support obligation to below the state guidelines. For example, a parent may require education, which would allow them to provide more for their child, and during that period of time their education might benefit if the child support was reduced below the guidelines temporarily.
Contact a Maryland Child Support Attorney Today
To ensure that your child receives what he or she needs in order to thrive, the compassionate Maryland child support attorneys at Frame & Frame can help. Whether you are the receiving custodial parent or the non custodial paying parent, we will represent your best interests in and out of the courtroom. Call us at 410-255-0373 to set up a consultation today.