With the economic downturn, more and more clients are filing for modification of their child support obligation, in an attempt to decrease the amount they owe every month. In fact, according to the Associated Press The Maryland Child Support Enforcement Administration has seen an 18 percent increase over the last year in requests for child support modifications.
In accordance with Section 12-104 of the Family Law Article, Annotated Code of Maryland, “the court may modify a child support award subsequent to the filing of a motion for modification and upon a showing of a material change of circumstances.” Courts have held that an involuntary loss of employment is a material change in circumstances. However, it is up to the parent who is seeking to reduce their payment to file for a modification, and child support is not decreased until an order is in place (not simply because a Motion was filed). Many clients who are paying child support and suffer loss of a job, incarceration or a decrease in income do not file a motion to modify their child support with the court, because they may not be aware of this option or they wait to file and end up with a huge arrearage situation (past due child support). If child support is in fact modified, the Court may only make the new amount retroactive to the date of the filing, not back to the date of the loss of employment, incarceration or decreased income. If a modification of child support is the best course of action, it is important to move quickly to maximize the potential benefit.
An experienced family law attorney can advise you of your best option if you find yourself in this situation.