Can I reduce my child support for taking care of other children?

Many divorced Maryland parents face hardships when meeting their child support obligations. It is important to remember that your duty to pay court-ordered child support does not end automatically because you have experienced a layoff from your job or suffered a debilitating injury that prevents you from working.

In fact, Maryland law requires that a parent with a child support obligation must seek out a modification from the court before any reduction in payments is allowed. In most cases, a court will want to see that there has been a material change in circumstances that will justify reducing the amount of your child support payments.

One example of a change in circumstances might be a substantial increase or decrease in income of either parent since the time when the child support order went into effect. In other words, if your ex-spouse inherited a large sum of money or received a pay raise at work then your child support obligations may need to be recalculated. Another example might involve you suffering an injury at work that has significantly diminished your earning capacity.

Maryland courts factor the children for whom you are legally obligated to support when formulating the initial child support order at the time of your divorce. The children of girlfriends or boyfriends are not considered part of your legal obligation, even if you are cohabitating and taking care of those children.

Fortunately, Maryland law will allow family courts to consider your care of those children if you have since remarried and have legally adopted or otherwise obtained custody or guardianship of those other children. Your Maryland family law attorney can assist you with putting together your petition for modification of your child support order. If successful, you may experience a decrease in your monthly payments.

Source: State of Maryland-Child Support Enforcement Division, “Frequently asked questions” accessed Feb. 05, 2015