First off, fill out the right form! You’ll start with the Application for Support Enforcement Services, which is the basic initial form that says that you need child support for this child, from this person, for this reason.
(The fee may be waived if less than $3,500 in support gets paid in 12 months, or a filer receives Temporary Cash Assistance.)
Step 4: Serve Person Who is Being Asked to Pay
After the forms are filed and fee paid, the person being asked to pay child support needs official notification of your application for support services.
That means all papers and a Writ of Summons from the court must be properly “served” – officially delivered – to the other party.
You cannot serve these papers yourself. Maryland requires someone other than the plaintiff (the person who asked for support) to serve the defendant (the person who will pay the support).
To serve a person with papers, you could:
Send them through certified mail, though you’ll need someone other than the plaintiff to actually mail them;
Hire a private process server; or
Request local law enforcement hand-deliver the documents.
For the papers to be officially served, you’ll typically need some sort of proof of receipt, such as certified mail receipt or an Affidavit of Service.
Step 5: Request for A Default Ruling If No Answer Filed
Once the forms are filed and the defendant served, there is a waiting period for a response to the application for child support.
Where defendant was served:
Time allowed for response:
30 days after being served
Out of state
60 days after being served
Out of country
90 days after being served
If the defendant submits no answer to the court in response to the request for support, then the plaintiff may file a Request for Order of Default.
Typically, with no response from the defendant, the court rules in favor of the plaintiff by default and officially orders the child support from the defendant to the plaintiff.
Step 6: Request Hearing or Proceeding
When a defendant does respond to the application for child support, the next step is seeing a judge. The plaintiff will need to formally request a hearing or proceeding before a family judge from the proper court.
Remember: Just filing the paperwork does not automatically get a person into the courtroom. By making the request a hearing gets scheduled by the court.
The worksheet includes income and expenses of both parties involved, to help the court determine if and how much child support will be paid.
All sources of income need accounted for on the worksheet, from stock dividends to rental income to tips.
At the end of the proceedings, a judge will rule for or against child support. At that point, the child support order will be a formal court order – meaning that it has the full weight of the Maryland legal system behind it, requiring it to be fulfilled.
How A Family Lawyer Helps in Child Support Cases
A lawyer is not needed to file for child support, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to have someone take you through the process.
After all, they do this all the time! They will know what’s important, what’s not, and how to make the best case before the judge for you and your child.