Child Support Answers
If you are in the process of a divorce or custody matter, you may feel anxiety regarding the issue of child support. How much will you have to pay? Can this amount ever be changed? How is the child support amount calculated? If you are facing the possibility of joint custody with your previous spouse regarding your child, it is likely the court will require one parent to pay child support to the other parent. The following are some common concerns regarding the child support process and your legal rights.
Is Child Support Mandatory?
Yes. If the state of Maryland orders a parent to pay child support to another parent is it not optional. Child support payments are taken very seriously by the family courts in Maryland, and if a parent does not pay the amount required, the penalties can be severe. Maryland courts believe that a child should receive both emotional and financial support from both parents even if they are divorced.
Can a Child Support Order Ever Be Modified?
Yes. You have the right under the law to request a modification of the child support order if either three years have passed since the order was entered, or if your circumstances have changed such that a modification is reasonable or necessary. Some examples in the State of Maryland that would warrant such a modification would include changes in income, relocation, changes in daycare costs, changes in health care costs, changes in the amount of overnights with the child or changes in the financial needs of the child. The fact that you not have more children to care for or have gotten married is not a typical reason the court will decrease child support.
How is Child Support Calculated?
Child support is ordered and determined by the judge using a statutory guideline to calculate the amount. The State of Maryland has specific worksheets that lawyers and judges use to determine the amount of child support to be recommended. The worksheet information incorporates the custodial arrangements (ie. the amount of overnights the child stays with each parent), the incomes of each parent before taxes, and the costs to care for the child to include childcare and healthcare expenses. tThe judge will typically use the amounts provided by the guidelines, however, has the independent discretion to deviate from the guidelines if justified and make changes to these calculations as necessary to ensure the child has the financial resources it needs.
Will Bankruptcy Discharge Child Support?
No. Child support obligations will never be dismissed in a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy case. The law is clear that both parents should emotionally and financially support a child. If you feel your financial circumstances have changed such that you can no longer afford the amount of child support payments originally agreed upon or ordered, your best course of action would be to request a child support modification. It is important to file for the modification as soon as possible once a change in income has occurred as the process may take many months before it comes before the Court.
When Does Child Support End?
Typically, you will need to pay child support until the child is either 18 years of age, has graduated from High School, or fully emancipated. Even if continuing child support has ended, if you are in arrears and owe child support from before the child aged-out, your payments will continue until your arrearage debt is paid in full.
Let Us Help You Today
If you are facing a divorce or custody matter, you should have an experienced family law attorney by your side to ensure your legal rights to your child are protected and that child support is appropriately calculated. Contact the experienced Prince Frederick child support attorneys serving southern Maryland at the offices at Meng Law at 410-535-5500 or online today. We can help you calculate the correct amount of child support for your case, and help ensure that your child receives both emotional and financial support from your former spouse.