Guarantee Your Child’s Financial Foundation Through Fair Child Support Orders
Guard your child’s welfare and financial stability with the child support they need to grow up safe and healthy through Maryland court-ordered child support.
And, don’t stay stuck in an unfair child support order. The Law Office of James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates, LLC, can help you balance your need to provide for your family with your changed circumstances.
What Does Maryland Law Consider As “Child Support?”
Under Maryland law, a parent must financially support their children – even if the parents’ relationship ends. This financial support is known as “child support.”
Typically, the parent without physical custody of the child involved pays some amount of child support to help with their housing, child care, and medical expenses
It’s a common misconception that child support is “paid” to an ex-spouse. In fact, the support payments typically “belong” legally to the child in question. The money is then used by their guardian – your ex – to provide for the family.
That sort of legal hair-splitting may feel negligible, as since the parent with physical custody spends the money and not the child. However, this nuance may be important if that parent has done something with the money that’s not in your child’s best interest.
Of course, a family law attorney experienced in child support orders can best help you figure out that legal puzzle – whether at the start or down the line.
How Do I Get Child Support In Maryland?
When you separate from your child’s other parent, it’s always in your best interest to get an official child support order issued by a Maryland family court.
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 you cannot negotiate a separation agreement, you or your legal representation should file a Complaint for Child Support with the circuit court. The court will schedule a hearing and issue the calculated child support for you.
How Is Child Support Calculated 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
- 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” themselves, then court might base a child support award on their imputed income (or wage-earning capacity).
Under certain circumstances, these child support guidelines might not apply at all!
A child support lawyer can help ensure that your calculations are correct and fully account for your child’s needs.
Without the help of an experienced lawyer, you may seriously undervalue (or overvalue) support payments.
It’s always best to invest in legal help to get child support right the first time. Otherwise, you will end up spending additional time and money modifying the inaccurate court order.
How Do Maryland Courts Enforce 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 in Maryland to collect those monies on behalf of your child.
A child support lawyer or the Maryland Child Support Administration can help you recover unpaid child support. A defaulting parent might face:
- Garnishment of their wages, government benefit payments, income tax returns, or lottery winnings
- Judgment liens on their property
- Loss of their driver’s license
- Loss of professional licenses
- Denial of a passport application or renewal
- Jail time
How Can I Modify An Existing Child Support Order In Maryland?
Maryland law was written with the understanding that life continues even after a court has “finalized” something like child support payments. Therefore, Marylanders 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
- 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. From there, you’ll present evidence to demonstrate the significant change in circumstances, and the court may request a hearing.
While you’re trying to modify the previous court order, 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 JC Law for a free initial consultation. We can help you change a child support order so that it is fair and appropriate under your new circumstances.
“My case is complicated by several unusual factors, and [my attorney] has been thorough in his preparing for my PL hearing for child support. His confidence in the courtroom helped ease my anxiety, and his exhaustive prep work led to positive results.”
Find out what it’s like to work with us.