Germantown, Silver Spring and throughout Montgomery County, Maryland Child Support Lawyers Providing Clients With Legal Help for Child Support Matters
The state of Maryland understands that parents have a legal obligation to provide financial support to their child until the child’s 18th birthday. When a couple splits up, child support payments are meant to help parents share the costs involved with raising the child and providing for all the child’s needs. However, child support rules are not always easy to understand and it may be hard to figure out how much you will end up paying or receiving every month. Our attorneys assist clients with a variety of child support issues and explain what you need to know about child support in Maryland.
How Does Child Support Work in Maryland?
The term child support refers to the monthly payments one parent (usually the non-custodial parent) makes to the other parent to help share the expenses necessary to raise their child. The money is paid to the custodial parent but is actually meant to benefit the child and not the parent. The child support payments may be used to cover basic necessities such as food, clothing, education, and any other needs the child may have.
Child support is typically ordered by a Maryland court when the parents of a child get divorced or legally separated, but it can also happen when an unmarried couple with children ends their relationship. In addition, some cases involving the establishment of paternity for a child born to unmarried parents may also result in court-ordered child support payments.
Does the Father Always Pay for Child Support in Maryland?
Traditionally, in child custody and support cases, the mother was viewed as the primary caretaker who would usually get custody of the children, and the father was seen as the breadwinner and thus would be the one providing child support payments due to the fact the mother would likely struggle to find employment after having stayed at home with the children for so many years.
A lot has changed, and Maryland courts no longer rely on a biased notion of traditional gender roles. Instead, the courts typically make decisions based on what is in the child’s best interests. This usually that the non-custodial parent will have the responsibility of making monthly child support payments. The non-custodial parent could be the father or sometimes the mother. It all depends on what the court believes will be the best for the children.
How Is Child Support Calculated in Maryland?
Child support payments are calculated following the state’s guidelines for child support. The guidelines factor in several aspects such as the number of children each parent support (including children from previous relationships), the number of overnights the children spend with each parent, which of the parents is responsible for health insurance and medical expenses, which parent provides payment for childcare or tuition for private education (if applicable), how far apart each parent resides from the other and the transportation costs resulting from visitation with each parent.
The guidelines are often updated and only apply to parents whose combined monthly income falls under a certain threshold. These are just a few examples – an attorney may be better equipped to inform you of what your child support payments may look like depending on your specific situation.
Can Child Support Orders Be Modified?
Courts will typically calculate child support payments taking into consideration many of the factors above described, and the payment amount is usually assumed to be correct and reflect both parents’ current financial situation. But what happens when things change and the non-custodial parent gets a raise or loses their job?
Parents may request modifications to their original child support order as long as they can demonstrate that there is a material change to their situation that justifies the modification request. Material changes may include (but are not limited to) when a parent’s income increases or decreases by at least 25%, when the child’s needs changes or the child requires more intensive medical attention due to a new disability or illness, or when one of the parents become unemployed or is sentenced to jail or prison. Changes do not happen automatically and either parent needs to submit a written motion to the court in order to request the modification. Consulting with a family lawyer is recommended before filing any documents with the court.
How Can a Child Support Attorney Help?
Child support is often a contentious aspect of a divorce, and it may be hard to understand exactly how a court makes determinations as to who should make child support payments and what the amount of those payments should be. It is not uncommon for clients to make mistakes during this step and end up with an unfavorable child support order or simply let their emotions take over and rush to make decisions that may prove to be unfavorable to them in the long run.
A child support attorney can help you better understand the entire process and inform you of your rights, so you can take steps more confidently and reach an outcome that is positive for you and your children. The legal team at Paré & Associates, LLC has represented several clients dealing with child support battles in Germantown, Silver Spring and throughout Montgomery County, Maryland and surrounding areas, and they have the knowledge and skills you need to reach a successful outcome for your child support case. If you have questions or are in the middle of a child support dispute, reach out to the attorneys at Paré & Associates, LLC, and request an initial consultation to see how we can help.