Do You Need Help From a Child Support Lawyer in Rockville, Maryland?
Child support payments and negotiations should be approached as coordinated efforts by parents to support the future wellbeing of any shared children, but both parents don’t always cooperate. It is always important to remain goal-oriented in these discussions and negotiations. Maryland recognizes this purpose and requires child support under the law and state guidelines. In fact, child support requirements have been raised in many circumstances due to the importance of these funds for children in Maryland. When it is time to address these issues, you need to seek the guidance of an experienced Maryland child support lawyer to pursue the interests of your child or children while also protecting your concerns as a productive parent positively contributing to your child(ren)’s welfare.
A mix of financial strains can quickly escalate tensions as you both address conflicting and shared concerns regarding your child(ren). This often happens in the context of anxiety over the breakup of your family dynamics and the need to adjust your hopes and plans for the future. Your attorney can keep child support discussions on track while working to minimize the emotional strain in what can be a contentious issue among divorced parents.
At the Law Offices of Ellen L. Lee, we can help you calculate the proper amount of child support according to Maryland’s guiding formula, and we can also help you enforce or modify existing child support orders. Backed by more than three decades of concentrated practice in Maryland family law, our firm has sustained a reputation for legal competence and compassionate service to individuals and families in Rockville and the surrounding communities.
Speak with our experienced founding child support attorney about your case. Contact us by filling out our online form or call us at (301) 279-0692(301) 279-0692 to schedule a consultation at a time convenient for you.
During this in-depth information-gathering session, our founding attorney Ellen L. Lee will discuss the details of your case with you directly by video via Zoom, by phone, or in person in our boutique law office in Rockville, Maryland. We will work together to build a strategy for your future based on your unique needs and goals.
Child Support Guidelines in Maryland Seek Fair and Appropriate Payment Terms
The guidelines for child support are meant to determine a fair support payment to be paid to the parent who has primary physical custody of the child(ren). While the guidelines are fairly straightforward, conflicts can arise, and you will need guidance on either side of the child support question as you seek appropriate child support terms that serve the interests and lifestyle of your child(ren) while taking into account the lifestyle and income of the paying parent.
The purpose of child support is to cover the costs of your child’s food, shelter, clothing, education, medication, and other needs. Child support is required to be paid until the child reaches the age of 18 or graduates from high school — whichever occurs later.
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Child support is required even if you have become unemployed or underemployed. In those cases, the court will order an amount based on what it determines to be your potential income.
The amount of child support is calculated based on a set of guidelines established by the state that takes the following factors into account:
- Your and your spouse’s incomes
- Your children’s ages
- The number of children in your family
- The number of overnight stays the child has with each parent
- Childcare expenses
- Healthcare costs
- Any special medical needs of your children
Maryland uses the child support worksheets to assist parents in calculating their child support obligation. Understand that the courts may deviate from these guidelines if the guidelines create an unjust or inappropriate decision.
An experienced family law attorney can help you estimate the amounts of child support you may be ordered to pay as the noncustodial parent, or that you should seek as the custodial parent — given the unique circumstances of your case and the range of pertinent factors. Contact us at the Law Offices of Ellen L. Lee today to conveniently schedule your confidential consultation with our founding child support attorney.
The Interests of The Child Are The Chief Factor in Maryland Child Support Decisions
In Maryland, the interests of the child are paramount in all decisions related to child support. Child support payments are designed to cover a range of expenses necessary for raising a child, including housing, food, clothing, healthcare, and education.
Child Support Payments Belong To The Child
The right to child support belongs to the child, not the custodial parent. This means that a custodial parent cannot waive child support owed to the child. Even if both parents no longer reside in Maryland, a court can continue to hear a child support matter, emphasizing the importance of the child’s interests.
Moreover, Maryland law underwent significant changes as of July 1, 2022, with child support increases for parents, further demonstrating the state’s commitment to prioritizing the well-being and needs of the child.
The primary goal of the court in child support cases and the Maryland Child Support Administration (CSA) that supports Maryland’s child support institutional structures is to ensure that children in Maryland can access the financial, medical, and emotional support they need to grow and thrive.
At the Law Offices of Ellen L. Lee, we can help you navigate your specific child support issues in relation to applicable child support enforcement services, to seek child support payments for your child(ren) in coordination with the institutions and the applicable court order.
Establishing Paternity and Child Support
Establishing paternity in Maryland can be a crucial step for unmarried parents to pursue the financial support their children need. Paternity can be established in several ways, and understanding these methods is essential for both parents.
Establishing Paternity Through an Affidavit of Parentage
One straightforward way to establish paternity is through an Affidavit of Parentage. This document can be signed at the time of the child’s birth or anytime up until the child’s 18th birthday. Both parents must voluntarily sign the affidavit. If the affidavit is not completed at the hospital, it can be requested from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Division of Vital Records.
Establishing Paternity Through a Court Order
If there is disagreement or uncertainty about the paternity of a child, you may need to petition the court to order genetic testing. The process involves an application fee and a per-person fee for the genetic testing. If the genetic test confirms paternity, the court can issue an order establishing paternity.
Marital Presumption of Paternity in Maryland
In Maryland, there is a marital presumption of paternity. This means that if a woman is married when she gives birth, her husband is presumed to be the legal father of the child. Speak with an experienced Maryland paternity lawyer if you are the presumed father of a child in Maryland and you question and wish to contest this designation.
The Challenges in Establishing Paternity
There are some factors that may delay or prevent the establishment of paternity. For example, if the alleged father refuses to participate in genetic testing, the court may need to become involved to enforce the testing order. Another potential challenge is if another man is already legally recognized as the father of the child — either through a previous marriage or a previously-signed affidavit of parentage.
The Importance of Establishing Paternity in Maryland
Establishing paternity is not just about child support. It’s about ensuring the child has a legal father who can provide emotional and financial support. It can also give the child access to medical histories, health insurance, social security, and other benefits.
The process of establishing paternity can be emotional, especially in cases of divorce or relationship breakdown. It can impact the relationships between parent and child going forward. However, it’s critical to remember that establishing paternity is about protecting the rights and interests of the child.
Establishing paternity in Maryland can be achieved through an Affidavit of Parentage, a court order, or marital presumption. Despite potential challenges, it is an important step that provides a child numerous benefits and further reinforces the bond between a father and his child.
How Does High Net Worth Affect Child Support in Maryland?
In Maryland, pursuing child support for high-net-worth individuals can present unique challenges as compared with cases involving lower-income and less-complex assets. The state’s guidelines for calculating child support apply to couples who have a combined gross monthly income of $30,000 or less. When the combined income exceeds this threshold, the court is not required to adhere to the Guidelines formula.
This lack of a formulaic approach means that the process of determining child support in high-income cases can be much more complex and nuanced. It involves the court using its discretion to balance the interests of the child against the financial resources of both parents.
In high-net-worth child support cases, the court will typically consider a variety of factors including:
- the parents’ assets
- the parents’ educational backgrounds
- the parents’ special training
- the child’s lifestyle prior to the divorce or separation
This can involve a lifestyle analysis and benchmarks of the parents’ standards of living to determine the lifestyle and standards of living that the child should enjoy.
High-Net-Worth Individuals Need to Seek Guidance From an Experienced Child Support Attorney to Avoid Disputes and Extended Litigation
However, this discretionary approach can lead to inconsistency or unpredictability in child support awards, potentially leading to disputes and prolonged litigation. Therefore, it is important for high-net-worth individuals to seek the advice of an experienced family law attorney who understands the complexities involved in these types of cases.
Calculating Assets in High-Net-Worth Cases to Inform Child Support Terms
Furthermore, high-net-worth individuals often have diverse income sources, such as investments, stock options, or business ownership interests. These can be difficult to quantify in terms of monthly income, adding another layer of complexity to the child support calculation.
Always remember that despite these challenges, the primary purpose of child support is to ensure that children share in the standard of living of both parents after a divorce. Regardless of the parents’ wealth, the paramount concern of the court is to protect the child’s interests.
Pursuing high-net-worth child support in Maryland involves a delicate balance of various factors. While it can be more complex and challenging than typical child support cases, it is possible to navigate this process effectively with the right legal guidance.
Accounting for Expenses in Maryland Child Support
In Maryland, child support is calculated using a specific formula that accounts for several important expenses and factors. The intent behind child support is to ensure that the child’s needs are met and that they continue to benefit from the financial resources of both parents.
Calculating Child Support in Maryland
The first step to account for child support expenses is to determine each parent’s actual income.
This includes income from any source, such as:
- dividend income
- pension income
- interest income
Next, this actual income is adjusted or “imputed” by subtracting certain allowable deductions.
These deductions may include:
- preexisting child support orders
- costs of access to health insurance for the child
Once both parents’ adjusted incomes are determined, they are added together to establish the combined adjusted income. This combined income is then cross-referenced with the Maryland Child Support Guidelines to determine the basic child support obligation.
Accounting for Additional Expenses When Determining Maryland Child Support Terms
In addition to the basic child support obligation, other child-related expenses are also accounted for in Maryland child support. These other expenses can include:
- child care costs
- extraordinary medical expenses
- costs for education
- special needs
For example, Maryland treats childcare costs as a “mandatory deduction” for basic child support. This means that if the noncustodial parent pays child care costs, the amount of these costs will be deducted from the income used to calculate their child support payments.
Applying Child Support Funds to Proper Child Support Expenses in Maryland
Child support payments are meant to cover a portion of the child’s living expenses, including food, housing, clothing, education, and healthcare. It is important that these payments are used appropriately to support the child’s well-being. Accounting for child support expenses is a detailed process that ensures the child receives the financial support they are entitled to, underlining the importance of both parents’ responsibilities to contribute to their child’s upbringing.
Violations of Child Custody Agreements in Maryland
In Maryland, child support is a legal obligation, and failure to comply with this responsibility can lead to serious consequences. Violations of child support primarily involve failing to make timely and full payments as ordered by the court.
The Implications for the Child When a Parent Fails to Pay Child Support
When a parent fails to pay child support, it not only affects the custodial parent, but more importantly, it directly impacts the child’s well-being. The money is meant to cover expenses such as food, housing, clothing, education, and healthcare. Therefore, non-payment can lead to significant hardship for the child.
The Possible Consequences of Not Paying Child Support in Maryland
Failure to pay child support in Maryland can put a lengthy legal process into motion. The following are some potential consequences a parent may face if they violate their child support obligations:
- Contempt of Court: Since child support payments are court-ordered, failing to pay may be treated as contempt of court, which can lead to fines or jail time.
- Wage Garnishment: The court can order a portion of the delinquent parent’s wages to be withheld to pay for child support.
- Interception of Federal Income: Overdue child support payments can be collected from federal income tax refunds.
- License Suspension: If a parent hasn’t paid child support for 60 days or more, their driver’s license and professional and occupational licenses could be suspended.
- Liens on Property: Liens can be placed on the property of the parent who owes child support, preventing them from selling or borrowing against it until the debt is paid.
- Criminal Charges: Any parent who fails to provide child support can be charged with a misdemeanor under Section 10-203. However, criminal charges for failure to pay child support are uncommon in Maryland.
These consequences underscore the seriousness of failing to meet child support obligations. It’s essential for parents to understand their responsibilities and the potential implications of non-compliance with child support orders. If a parent is facing difficulties in making their payments, they should seek legal advice to explore possible modifications to the child support order.
Planning for the Duration of Child Support in Maryland
In Maryland, the duration of child support generally continues until the minor child reaches the age of 18. However, this duration can be extended to age 19 if the child is still enrolled in high school.
Should the child turn 18 during their senior year of high school, child support payments would not necessarily terminate immediately. Instead, they would continue until the child graduates or turns 19 — whichever occurs first.
Another important factor to consider is that even if a child has reached the age of majority (18), the court may order child support to continue past the age of majority if they are unable to live independently and support themselves due to disability.
Past-Due Child Support Orders Can Sometimes Date Back to the Birth of a Child in Maryland
A parent may be responsible for child support for the time period prior to when paternity was established. When a court establishes paternity in Maryland, it can also issue an order for child support and determine the amount of any past-due support for the time period dating back to the child’s birth.
However, it’s essential to note that every child support case is unique, and various factors can influence the duration and amount of child support. Therefore, it’s always wise to seek guidance from an experienced family law attorney who understands the details of Maryland spousal support law.
Circumstances That Can Lead to Modification of Child Support Terms in Maryland
Child support modification in Maryland can occur if there is a significant and ongoing change in either parent’s financial situation or in the needs of the child. Examples of such changes could include:
- Significant increase or decrease in either parent’s income
- Job loss
- Serious illness or disability
- Increase in the child’s needs or expenses (such as medical costs, educational costs, etc.)
- Change in the amount of time the child spends with each parent
- Incarceration of a parent
It’s important to note that the change must be substantial and ongoing. Temporary changes or changes that don’t significantly affect the financial situation of the parents or the needs of the child may not be sufficient for a modification.
Steps to Pursue a Modification of Child Support Terms in Maryland
To pursue a modification in child support, the attorney of the parent seeking the change must file a formal motion with the court that issued the original child support order. This motion should detail the reasons for the requested change and provide evidence to support these reasons.
- Discuss and coordinate with your attorney regarding your purposes and strategy for pursuing a modification of child support terms.
- Your attorney will fill out the proper forms to request a modification. Your attorney can guide you through this process and help you coordinate completion of the appropriate documents.
- Your attorney will file the motion requesting a modification.
- Once the motion is filed, the other parent is served with a copy and has the opportunity to respond.
- The court then reviews the motion, along with any responses, and decides whether to deny the motion or set a hearing.
If the court sets a hearing, that begins a new case. Keep in mind that until the court approves a modification, the existing child support order remains in effect. Therefore, it’s critical to continue making the current child support payments while the modification request is being processed.
Changes in Maryland Child Support Laws
Maryland’s child support laws have changed in recent years. Below, we will highlight some impactful changes.
Maryland Has Raised Child Support Payment Requirements and Thresholds
Child support requirements were raised in 2022 for parents with a combined actual income over $19,200/year. Maryland’s Child Support Guidelines were also modified such that their formula for determining child support terms will be presumptively correct for parents with combined actual adjusted income up to $360,000/year — up from $180,000/year.
Determining Voluntary Impoverishment in Maryland in Relation to Child Support Orders
Additionally, Maryland’s Guidelines have been updated to define voluntary impoverishment. This affects child support decisions, taking into account whether a parent has freely and consciously selected not to have adequate resources. Discuss with your attorney if you believe this may be a concern in your child support case.
Some Factors Can Now Authorize or Require Maryland Courts to Decline Child Support Orders
In yet another change, Maryland courts now have the discretion and authority to decline to order child support if a parent who would otherwise be required to pay child support lives with the child and contributes to support that child.
The court also may not order child support if the otherwise-obligated parent:
- Is unemployed
- Lacks the requisite resources to pay child support
- Is expected to remain incarcerated for the duration of the projected child support period
- Is expected to remain institutionalized in a psychiatric care facility for the duration of the projected child support period
- Is totally and permanently disabled, unable to seek or maintain work, and is dependent upon Supplemental Security Income and/or Social Security Disability benefits
- Cannot seek or maintain work for the projected future due to compliance requirements for criminal detainment, rehabilitation treatment, or hospitalization
The specific details of your situation and the discretion of the court will affect the decision whether or not to order child support in many instances. Discuss your unique concerns with your attorney in light of recent changes in legislation.
Our founding Rockville child support lawyer stays up-to-date on the constant changes to the laws and finds ways to make the changes work to the advantage of you and your children.
Schedule a Consultation to Discuss Your Child Support Matter with Ellen L. Lee, An Attorney with Over 35 Years of Experience Practicing Family Law in Montgomery County, Maryland
With over three decades of experience, Ellen L. Lee has been committed to helping individuals and families in Montgomery County, Maryland with their family law requirements. Drawing on her counseling and psychology background, she is adept at offering personal guidance and emotional support during this challenging time. Rest assured, you can rely on her deep knowledge, personal dedication, and compassionate approach to guide throughout your family concerns.
Consult with a caring family lawyer at the Law Offices of Ellen L. Lee, LLC regarding the details of your divorce or child support matter. Call us at our boutique law firm today at (301) 279-0692(301) 279-0692 to book a consultation, or fill out our online form as the first step towards building a tailored strategic plan to pursue your goals in your Maryland child support case.
Our founding family law attorney can meet with you by phone, by video conference via Zoom, or in person at our law office in Rockville, Maryland. We can also schedule evening or weekend appointments to meet your needs.
Why Choose the Law Offices of Ellen L. Lee
Ellen L. Lee has devoted over 35 years of unwavering commitment to aiding individuals and families in Montgomery County, Maryland with their family law needs. Grounded in counseling and psychology, she provides personalized guidance and assistance to her clients in an inviting atmosphere — prioritizing effective communication while forging new beginnings amidst family law disputes.
- Tenacious & Compassionate Legal Support
- Trusted Guidance that Exceeds Expectations
- Full Range of Family Law Services
- Flexible Consultation Times: Nights and Weekends are Available
- Over 35 Years of Experience Practicing Family Law in Montgomery County, Maryland
Our Founding Attorney conveniently meets with clients via phone, video conference, or in person at our office in Rockville, Maryland.