What are Maryland’s child support guidelines?
Maryland family law courts always place their priority on children's best interest whenever couples with kids began divorce proceedings. Keeping that in mind, it is then easier to understand that any decision made by the court must first be viewed through that lens. All decisions regardless of scope, e.g., visitation rights, which party will remain in the marital home, which party will keep the newest vehicle -- these will all be decided against the crucible of whatever is best for the children.
Child support is no different. The court will determine how much money the noncustodial parent should pay to the custodial parent help offset the cost of raising the children. Maryland courts use a system to determine just how much money noncustodial parents should be required to pay. This system is governed by the Maryland Child Support Guidelines.
In 1988, Congress passed the Family Support Act which required each state to put together guidelines regarding child support issues. This is important to know because prior to the FSA most states did not have guidelines which ensured that children's interests were prioritized.
Today, nearly all of the states including Maryland participate in guidelines which are based on an "Income Shares Model." The research involved in choosing this model as the standard process involved painstaking statistical analysis completed by multiple economists to arrive at the numbers we have today. As a result of that work Maryland family courts now look at the income of both parents, the number of children involved, health care costs for all of the children, whether parents are paying for support to other children (from other relationships), alimony (paid and being received), daycare costs and any other medical expenses related to assisting children with special needs.
If you are a parent who has experienced a significant and ongoing change to your source of income you may be entitled to request a modification of an existing child support order. Guidelines are just that, they are used to guide the decision-making process yet they are not regulations set in stone. Suffering a disabling injury which affects your ability to earn income, or the assumption of child rearing duties by a third-party are two examples which may affect your child support obligations under the guidelines.
Source: State of Maryland-Department of Human Resources, "2008 Update of the Maryland Child Support Guidelines Schedule" Oct. 24, 2014