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How is Child Support Calculated in Maryland – Just the Basics?

A common inquiry for Maryland divorce lawyers is how child support is calculated with questions such as, is it based on the custody arrangement, the amount of income of the parties, are the parent’s expenses taken into consideration, and what about expenses associated with the child? The answer, for the most part is all of the above, with the exception of the parent’s expenses, which are generally not taken into consideration unless it is an above the child support guidelines case. The Maryland legislature has enacted guidelines which provide a standard formula for calculating child support. The Maryland Code, Family Law § 12-204 provides that child support shall be calculated based on the parties combined adjusted actual income combined with the number of children the parties share. Not only do the guidelines take into account the parties’ gross income (not net income), but also any health insurance costs the parties are paying for the child or the children, costs of work-related child care either party may be paying for the child or the children, extraordinary medical expenses paid for the child or the children, and existing prior child support obligations.

The guidelines are also based on the custody arrangement the parties have with the child or children. At the present time, if the mother or father has sole physical custody (less than 128 nights with non-custodial parent) than the Maryland child support guidelines will provide for more support for that parent. If the mother and father share physical custody of the child or children (child spends more than 128 nights with each parent) the child support guidelines will provide for less child support to the party seeking it. If one of the parties to the case is unemployed or earning less than their potential(not due to disability, illness or a child under the age of two belonging to the parties) the court may find them to be voluntary impoverishing themselves, and may determine child support based on their potential income. If the parties combined adjusted actual income is over $10,000 a month, the Court has the ability to award child support based on need. The statutory child support guidelines cease providing a sum for support above and beyond a combined monthly income of $10,000.00. However, courts often extrapolate the child support guideline past the $10,000.00 figure and base an award on that number or at the very least take the extrapolated child support guideline into consideration.

For more information, contact Monica Scherer, Esq. at 410-625-4740

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