If you are separating from your spouse or partner, a Baltimore child support lawyer can help you ensure your child’s welfare and financial stability. As your relationship ends, both you and your child might worry about his or her living expenses — including housing, work-related child care, and medical bills. At James E. Crawford & Associates, we can help you protect your child and ease their transition during a divorce or separation.
How Do I Get Child Support?
Under Maryland law, a parent must financially support his or her children– even if the parents’ relationship ends. When you separate from your child’s other parent, it’s always in your best interest to get a child support order. Unlike a verbal promise, a child support order is legally enforceable and clearly defines each parent’s responsibilities.
Sometimes, parents can agree on child support payments and include them in their court-approved separation agreement. If cannot negotiate a separation agreement, you should file a Complaint for Child Support with the Circuit Court for Baltimore City or Baltimore County. The court will schedule a hearing and issue calculate child support for you.
Calculating Child Support in Maryland
Maryland child support is based on a series of guidelines. The courts must consider:
- The number of children involved,
- The parents’ child custody arrangement (sole or shared),
- Each parent’s income,
- Health insurance and medical care costs, and
- Child care costs,
While this may seem like a simple calculation, child support numbers involve a nuanced analysis. For example, if a parent could work, but instead decides to “voluntarily impoverish” himself or herself, the court might base a child support award on his or her imputed income (or wage earning capacity). Or, under certain circumstances, the guidelines might not apply at all.
A child support lawyer can help ensure that your calculations are correct and fully take into account your child’s needs. Without the help of an experienced lawyer, you may seriously undervalue (or overvalue) support payments. It’s always best to get child support right the first time– otherwise, you will end up spending additional time and money modifying the inaccurate court order.
Enforcing a Child Support Order
While many parents accept their financial responsibility and willingly comply with their child support order, disputes are not uncommon. If your child’s parent refuses to pay child support, you have legal rights.
A child support lawyer or the Maryland Child Support Administration can help you recover unpaid child support. A defaulting parent might face:
- Garnishment of his or her wages, government benefit payments, income tax returns, or lottery winnings,
- Judgment liens on his or her property,
- Loss of his or her driver’s license,
- Loss of his or her professional licenses,
- Denial of a passport application or renewal, and
- Jail time.
Modifying a Child Support Order
In Baltimore, you can modify a child support order if the parents’ circumstances change significantly. For example, you might modify a child support order if a parent:
- Suffers a job loss or loses significant income,
- Experiences income growth,
- Becomes disabled, or
- Loses or gains child custody,
Depending on your circumstances, a modification can either increase or reduce a child support obligation.
To modify a child support order, you must file a written motion. You should never stop paying child support on your current order. Non-payment might result in serious penalties. Instead, contact an experienced child support lawyer at James E. Crawford & Associates. We can help you change a child support order so that it is fair and appropriate under your new circumstances.
Contact a Baltimore Child Support Lawyer
A child support lawyer can guide you through Maryland’s guidelines and ensure that your children receive the financial support they need. James E. Crawford & Associates has represented parents with child support issues since 1993. We provide our clients with a detailed analysis of their obligations and advocate tirelessly on both their and their children’s behalf. Contact us for a personalized and confidential assessment.