Jackson remains precedent in “above the guidelines” cases.
Jackson v. Proctor, 145 Md. App. 76 (2002).
The Court of Special appeals reviewed, once again, an above-the-guidelines case involving a professional football player in Jackson. The appellant, Mr. Jackson, earned an average salary of $710,000 per year, exclusive of bonuses, throughout his three year contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The appellee earned a miniscule annual income that was around $16,000 per year, while she was earning her undergraduate and graduate degrees at Penn State University. The parties’ combined monthly income exceeded $55,000 per month, constituting an above-the-guidelines, discretionary child support determination under Md. Family Law Code Ann. § 12-204(d).
Jackson argued that the child support award should not exceed the necessary expenses of the child. After reviewing the relevant expenses, the CSA determined that the mother did not live above her means and “[a]lthough she could have incurred debt to inflate or create expense for the child, and to give the child the benefit of the wealthy lifestyle available to appellant, she did not do so.” The CSA also mentioned that Mr. Jackson had already been voluntarily paying $2,500 per month in child support when he was required to pay a lesser amount, but then took offense to the amount when he was ordered to pay $2,500 per month by the master. Mr. Jackson argued that the child support award should not be determined in an effort to treat the child in the same manner in which she would have enjoyed if the parties were ever married. The CSA concluded that “a child’s needs are not tied to the parents’ prior marital status. Nor can we sanction a system of calculating support that varies with the parents’ prior marital status; to do so would penalize children born out of wedlock.” Mr. Jackson then attempted to make the same argument present in Voishan — that the child support obligation should have been capped at the ceiling of the Maryland Child Support Guidelines as if the parents made a combined monthly income of $10,000. The CSA referenced the Voishan decision and, again, reiterated that if it was the legislature’s intention to cap the child support obligation at the guidelines ceiling, they would have established it in the statute, and not provided discretion to the trial court. Ultimately, the CSA affirmed the ruling of the trial court.
For more information on Maryland divorce and child support matters contact an experienced divorce attorney.