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Child Support Attorney in Anne Arundel County, Maryland

When the end of a marriage is in sight, and children are involved, the inevitable issue of child support looms large. Who pays whom will often hinge upon the related issue of child custody. The state of Maryland uses formulas based on each parent’s income to determine the percentage that each will owe upon the separation of the partners. 

Ultimately, of course, a family law judge will assign or approve child support obligations and custody, as well as parenting time. Generally speaking, the parent who has primary physical custody will receive support from the other parent who does not have primary custody. However, matters can become tricky. For instance, what if there is shared custody? And how does each parent’s income and expenses come into play? 

If you are ending a union anywhere in Anne Arundel County, Maryland—or seeking to modify an existing child support arrangement—contact Kathleen M. Kirchner, Attorney at Law. With more than 17 years of experience in family law and child support arrangements, she will help you navigate the legal system to pursue the best result possible. Kathleen also proudly serves clients throughout Queen Anne's, Calvert, Prince George's, and Howard counties. 

Understanding Child Support in Maryland 

Though Maryland’s divorce laws changed in October 2023, its formulas for child support did not. The changes affected mostly a previous provision that allowed for “limited divorce,” a kind of legal separation. That option is no longer available. Instead, divorce or dissolution of a union can be accomplished through mutual consent, which entails forging a marital settlement agreement between the partners. It's a form of uncontested divorce. 

Other options for divorce include separating for six months before filing a complaint for absolute divorce. The partners can live together for those six months but must pursue separate lives. A third option is to cite irreconcilable differences. 

That being said, child support in Maryland is still based on each partner’s income and the custody arrangement that is implemented. The formula for child support starts by calculating each parent’s “actual monthly income.” 

How Is Income Calculated?  

For most individuals, this calculation includes their salary or wages, but can also include income from bonuses, Social Security benefits, workers' compensation benefits, alimony, and other types of income. It does not include income from temporary assistance programs such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), food stamps, and the like. 

The next step is calculating each parent’s “adjusted actual income.” This is done by deducting any pre-existing child support or alimony a parent pays from a previous union. Other factors that may be considered in computing child support obligations include work-related childcare expenses such as daycare; health insurance expenses; and extraordinary medical expenses that are not covered by insurance. These could include orthodontia, asthma treatment, physical therapy, and psychological counseling. 

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Child Support Outcomes 

As a general principle, if one parent gets what amounts to primary physical custody, the other parent will be assigned a child support payment based on the factors above. It is assumed that the custodial parent will be using his or her income to house, feed, and provide for the child or children, and thus a percentage of the other parent’s income will be assigned as child support. 

Under Maryland law, though, there is also the possibility of a shared parenting arrangement. Under this provision, each parent has physical custody of the children at least 35 percent of the time—calculated by overnight stays—and each parent essentially maintains a full-time residence for the child or children. In this case, the formula for child support divides this increased support amount between the co-parents according to their incomes and parenting time (percentage of time or number of days per year that a child spends with each parent). 
No two cases are alike, so it’s vital to contact a skilled child support attorney for help with your unique situation. 

Modifying or Terminating an Existing Child Support Arrangement 

If a parent seeks to modify an existing child support order, he or she must cite some sort of substantial and ongoing change such as one parent’s receiving higher income through a promotion or new job—or perhaps through a change in parenting time and custodial arrangements.  

However, keep this in mind: if one parent decides to quit working, or working less, to avoid their child support obligation, then the court could consider this “voluntary impoverishment” and order child support based on “imputed income.” 

It’s also important to understand that any child support order ends when the child turns 18, but this can be extended if the child has yet to finish high school. It can only be extended until the child’s 19th birthday. 

Child Support Attorney in Anne Arundel County, Maryland

If you as co-parents are going your separate ways and children are involved, then the issue of child support naturally arises. If you have already gone your separate ways, but your circumstances have changed financially, you may also want to modify an existing arrangement. In either case, child support can be complex and challenging. If you need help with child support issues in Anne Arundel County or anywhere else in Maryland, contact Katheen M. Kirchner, Attorney at Law.