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Both Parents Must Provide Support
Maryland law requires both parents to provide financial support for their children, regardless of whether a child lives with them. It is not fair to a parent or the child to have too much of the burden placed on one set of shoulders.
At Jimeno & Gray we work to understand the full range of family circumstances that can impact a child support order so we can advocate for an arrangement that meets your needs. While courts are required to apply a formula to calculate initial child support obligations, the court can consider additional factors when establishing or modifying support orders. We fight to ensure that the court learns all the factors that affect the child’s needs and both parents’ ability to pay support.
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Who Pays Child Support?
Even when parents share physical custody and have the same care expenses for a child, one parent will still be likely to owe child support to the other. Child support obligations are calculated based on information about each parent’s income, the child’s needs, and other family arrangements. One parent probably earns at least a little more than the other, so the parent with more resources is usually required to make payments to the other parent.
When one parent has primary physical custody, the child support payments for the other parent will be much higher than in a situation with shared custody. Your attorney can calculate amounts based on the Maryland Child Support Guidelines and review your situation to determine whether special factors could impact support obligations.
Child Support Orders are Legally Binding
Both parents need to understand that once a court enters an order for child support, the order is legally enforceable. Maryland has procedures in place to garnish wages or recover funds in other ways if a parent fails to pay as obligated.
If one parent is having trouble and the other agrees to pay more or accept less, that informal arrangement does not provide any protection. For instance, if the parent paying support is injured and can’t work and the other parent agrees to accept a much smaller monthly amount, the receiving parent could go back later and demand that the injured parent pay the full amount. If parents want to change support obligations, they should do it through the court in order to protect their interests.
Modification of Child Support
Child support orders are not written in stone. Either parent can ask the court to modify an existing order by filing a Petition to Modify Child Support. The parent seeking the modification must show a material change in circumstances justifies the change. Some examples of reasons for courts to modify child support include:
- A parent’s income has increased or decreased by 25% or more
- The child has changed living arrangements so parent’s contributions to living expenses has changed
- A parent has lost employment is unable to work because of disability, incarceration, or institutionalization
- The child has significant additional needs
If the court modifies a child support order, the new terms become legally binding and the old terms are discarded. Your attorney can prepare the petition and supporting documentation to persuasively demonstrate why a change in circumstances justifies the modification you need.
Work with Maryland Child Custody Lawyers Who Fight for You
At Jimeno & Gray, we understand that whether you are paying child support or receiving support, you need adequate resources at home to provide the right care for your child. We strive to ensure that the court learns of all the relevant factors that should impact support decisions, and we persuasively demonstrate how your objectives protect your child’s best interests.
If you are in the process of establishing support or are wondering whether it is time for a modification of a support order, give us a call to learn more about the ways we can assist.