What is Child Support in Maryland?
It is the inherent duty of both the parents to provide child support born out of the marriage. In 1990, Maryland brought in child support guidelines in effect, which provide a method for calculating child support based on a percentage of each parent’s gross income. These guidelines can be brought into effect unless a party proves that the application of the guidelines is unreasonable and inappropriate based on the facts and circumstances of their case. The child support is viewed in the context of a divorce or paternity action. While the courts often make the vital decision as to child custody and visitation, it makes enough emphasize on child support.
What is Child Support in Maryland?
The role of the courts in determining child support will come in play with the parents’ divorce or do not cohabit as a family. The court will decide how much support the non-custodial parent needs to pay.
The amount of juvenile support can be decided by an amicable agreement between the parties or by fighting it out before the Court.
In order to avoid expenses and save time, some parties would prefer to reach an agreement with the appropriate amount of juvenile support and make this agreement part of a marital separation agreement. As like alimony, juvenile maintenance payments can be part of the judgment or incorporated in a marital separation agreement.
The Essentials of the Maryland Child Support Order:
A child support order may contain several parts. The foremost part will be about the monthly payment to the custodial parent. The order will typically read, in part, as follows:
“Father/mother (name) is ordered to pay directly to father/mother (name) for juvenile maintenance of minor 1 and minor 2, the sum of $1000 per month per minor for a total of $ 2000, payable one-half on the first and one half on the fifteenth day of each month, said payments to continue until each such juvenile shall die, reach majority, become emancipated or until further order of court.”
Here are some important points in a Maryland child support order:
- Child support to be paid directly to the custodial parent: Parents paying juvenile maintenance dislike the order because it is made directly to the custodial parent and not the children. Most parents think it as another form of alimony and refuse to make the payments. But this is not true as direct payments are used to pay for the children’s important and basic needs, such as rent, food, and clothes.
- The court retains jurisdiction to change the order: A juvenile maintenance order can be changed if conditions change significantly in the future. The parents of the child may ask the court to raise or lower juvenile maintenance.
- The payments can be terminated when the minor reaches majority, dies or becomes emancipated: juvenile maintenance will come to an end when the child reaches majority (age 18 in Maryland except in certain circumstances) or the minor dies. In most cases, emancipation is often in dispute and is left for the court to decide. A determination of emancipation is fact specific but usually requires that the child has married or become self-supporting.
Does only money constitute as child support in Maryland?
Juvenile maintenance doesn’t necessarily mean money payments to the custodial parent. They should take into consideration other needs as well.
Here examples from child support orders:
“As and for additional juvenile maintenance, father/mother (name) is ordered to maintain his/her children as beneficiaries on his/her health and life insurance policies available through his/her employment. Father/mother is further ordered to pay for one-half of all uninsured medical, dental and ophthalmologic services provided for the children.”
“As and for additional juvenile maintenance, father/mother shall pay directly to the ABC Daycare Cooperative, the full cost of afternoon after-school daycare. However, should the children be enrolled in morning daycare, such expenses shall be the sole responsibility of the other parent.”
“As and for additional juvenile maintenance, father/mother shall pay the round-trip plane and other reasonable costs of transporting the children for visitation with father/mother, as provided in the visitation provisions of this order. However, during visits of two weeks or more, the father’s/mother’s juvenile maintenance payments to mother shall be reduced by $50 per month per child.”
From the examples mentioned herein, we can decipher that juvenile maintenance orders can be flexible. The court has several choices in making a support arrangement as it deems fit for the children. The court will ensure that the lifestyle the children remains the same as it was before the divorce if the parents’ finances permit. The court can also order a parent to maintain insurance for the benefit of children, pay medical bills, and take care of private school expenses, daycare costs, transportation bills, music lessons and for other aspects of a child’s day-to-day life. The amount of juvenile maintenance can be brought down if the paying parent has physical custody of the children for at least 35% of the time.
Which Court has the Power to Order juvenile maintenance – For a court to have jurisdiction, or legal authority, to compel a parent to pay child support, it must have personal jurisdiction over the parent. Personal jurisdiction means the parent paying the support must be connected with Maryland.
A juvenile maintenance order can be changed – Once a legal juvenile maintenance order is entered, that state continues to have the power to award child support even though it no longer has contacts with the supporting parent or children.
Child Support Hearings:
Parties need to attend all of the scheduled hearing on juvenile maintenance to avoid incorrect calculations. A parent can also be held in contempt of court if they miss a court hearing. The parent does not have to agree to the amount at the juvenile maintenance office and can request a court hearing to determine the correct amount.
Child Support is an Enforceable Court Order:
Just like any other judgment or decree, a juvenile maintenance order is also enforceable by the court. An aggrieved parent not receiving child support can seek to the enforcement of the order, such as wage garnishments, wage assignments, contempt of court decrees and the seizure of the non-paying parent’s property by writ of execution.
What are the other responsibilities of the parents?
The other lawful responsibilities of both parents will be taken into consideration for determining juvenile maintenance. However, the court will not decrease juvenile maintenance payments to make it easier for the parent to pay discretionary obligations.
To aid the court in determining the right amount, both parents will be required by the court to prepare a financial declaration that is signed under penalty of perjury. Each parent needs to disclose their complete income, nature, and extent of their property holdings such as bank accounts, investments, and real property and their financial obligations. The court will rely on these documents while making out the juvenile maintenance order. Therefore, keeping in view the best interests of the children, the parents need to honest with their declarations.
Juvenile maintenance hearings are often adversarial and parents do not agree on the support order. The court will hold a hearing to decide the issue. This is sometimes done in a chambers conference to save time. At the hearing, each spouse will have the chance to cross-examine the other on pertinent issues regarding juvenile maintenance and can subpoena documents and call witnesses to support his or her position as to the amount of juvenile maintenance that should be paid. One can appeal against juvenile maintenance orders but its success is very slim.
When Child Has Reached Majority does child support stop automatically?
The laws of Maryland require continuation of juvenile maintenance for children who turn 18 but are still enrolled in high school.
The court can order a parent to pay the child’s college expenses as juvenile maintenance if the parents have made an agreement but that agreement needs to be incorporated into a court order.
Child Support is Not Tax Deductible:
Also, note that juvenile maintenance is not deductible from tax. Therefore, you do not include those payments as income when you file your taxes.
These tax rules are the same for both federal and Maryland income tax.
If you need a Maryland child support lawyer to help you with a child support case in Maryland, call 888-437-7747. Our Maryland child support attorneys can help you. C