Maryland Courts ensure parents support their children after their relationship dissolves. Child support orders are issued to do just that. Here is what to know on how it works to help everyone, including:
- Why pay child support? – Making sure children are provided for by both parents;
- A child support order – Lists all modes of support; And
- Child support does not just mean financial aid, there are other ways to provide it.
Child Support Encourages Both Parents Care for Children
As a parent, the responsibilities of raising a child do not end when there is a divorce, separation, or never a marriage. Legally we must provide support and care to our children. Children deserve the love and support of their parents, even when the romantic relationship is over.
Under normal circumstances, both parents support and care for the children of their own free will, but when separation or divorce comes up, the court gets involved. Maryland has child support guidelines in place.
Establishing the guidelines in 1990, Maryland supplies a formula to calculate child support. Custody plays a role in who pays support, too. Typically, non-custodial parents pay the custodial parent’s support for the children. Custodial parents are the parents the children primarily live with, while non-custodial parents usually visit.
Like custody, the parents agree upon child support or fight it out in court. Child support happens to be a contentious issue, and sometimes a judge needs to make a ruling. If parents can agree and make it part of a marital settlement agreement, the process is cheaper and faster.
The court supports the best interest of the children during the separation or divorce. Often, a judge will order parents to participate in mediation to work out custody and child support issues. This process helps the parents since they produce the agreement together.
Judges do not know the children involved, but parents do, so parents’ agreement can factor in their children’s unique circumstances.
By paying child support, the non-custodial parent helps to ensure a home, schooling, food, and the care their child needs. The court tries to produce a dollar figure to pay that a person already commits to caring for their child.
We do not usually know how much that is because who counts every dollar spent on their kids? If we did, then there is no need for the child support calculator to determine what support is owed.
Overall, child support works to ensure children are provided for and cared for by both parents. The exact support provided to the children is in the child support order.
What Is in a Child Support Order?
There are several parts to a child support order. First, it covers the amount of money paid monthly by the non-custodial parent. Making these payments happens monthly or bi-monthly (twice a month).
Secondly, the order requires direct payments made to the custodial parent, not the children. The money is still for the kids. It is not an alimony payment. The money is for the children’s needs, such as rent, food, and clothes.
Courts assume non-custodial parents do not fulfill their financial obligation to raise them. This assumption is the main reason for Maryland’s child support guidelines. They ensure Mom and Dad pay their share of the cost of raising children.
The next essential item included in the custody order is the courts’ jurisdiction authority to change the agreement. Yes, the court can change the child support order if considered necessary. The order is not concrete. Requesting a modification happens when conditions change, such as losing a job or hospitalization.
And finally, the order has the date on which it ends. Typically, that date is the child’s 18th birthday, or when the child graduates high school, up to the age of nineteen (19), whichever is the latest. Child support also ends when a child dies or emancipates themselves.
It is important to note that a parent must file with the court to end child support. Charges will continue until a filing for termination happens. The state returns any over-payment to the paying parent after termination.
Money is one aspect of child support. The order can include other means of support for the children.
Child Support is More Than Just a Check
That’s right; support is not all about the “Benjamin’s.” It includes many other considerations and types of support a non-custodial parent can supply. It is allowing flexibility to child support orders.
Many orders address other needs of the children. Examples include keeping health insurance for the children, paying medical bills, private school expenses, daycare costs, or transportation.
Transportation factoring into child support orders supply details on who pays for the travel expenses. A parent who chooses to live in another state than where the custodial parent lives may have to pay for the plane tickets or gas needed for visitation.
Daycare comes up because both parents need someone else to watch and care for them while they work. Putting in detail as to who pays the new cost is providing support.
For instance, Mom pays for morning daycare, and Dad takes care of the afternoon daycare, or one parent pays the full cost. Or if parents work alternating shifts such as day-shift and night-shift when they provide daycare themselves or through a service.
These situations arise because of the new circumstances parents find themselves in while going through divorce or separation. Every case is unique and calls for different orders of child support.
By incorporating needs outside of financial ones, child support affords children to keep their lifestyle before the parents’ divorce or separation. Of course, the caveat to this is the parent’s finances must permit the support.
Previous orders from another relationship (actually a pretty common occurrence), like child support, alimony, and custody, factor into the support a non-custodial parent provides.
The court will not burden a parent with an order they could not adhere to due to their financial circumstances. It is their goal to make sure all parties, including the parents, afford the cost of living.
Child support is not a bad thing. It works for your child’s benefit, and they are what matters. Contact The Law Office of James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates, LLC for a free initial consultation into your child support case to see how a fair and reasonable arrangement can be made for your children.