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Busting Myths About Child Support in Maryland 

In Maryland, each parent must financially support their child.  If the parents of a child do not live together in the same household a child support order may be put in place to ensure the financial needs of the child are met, which will be based on the custody arrangement and ability to provide the support.

  1. The Mother will always get child support payments.

False.  Child support is not automatically given to the mother.  Neither parent is given any automatic “preference” when determining child support, simply based on their gender.  In Maryland, child support is determined based on the Maryland Child Support Guidelines.  The use of the Guidelines removes any perceived subjectivity and emotion from the analysis when the child support amount is determined.  Instead, certain standardized factors in input into the calculator (gross income, child related expenses, and time with the children) to generate an amount owed by the non-custodial parent. 

  1. A parent can reduce their child support obligation by intentionally lowering their income.

False, a parent owing child support cannot intentionally lower their income in order to avoid child support payments.  This concept is known as “voluntary impoverishment” and is not permitted.  The court considers “voluntary impoverishment” to be when a parent “has made the free and conscious choice, not compelled by factors beyond his or her control, to render himself or herself without adequate resources.”  Further “a parent is not excused from support because of a tolerance of or a desire for a frugal lifestyle.”  Durkee v. Durkee.  If a court finds that a party has voluntarily impoverished themselves, the court can impute income to that parent for purposes of calculating child support. 

The court looks to several factors when determining whether a party has voluntarily impoverished themselves.  These factors include: (a) current physical condition; (b) level of education; (c) timing of any change in employment or financial circumstances; (d) relationship between the parties prior to the initiation of litigation; (e) efforts to find and retain employment; (f) efforts to secure retraining if needed; (g) whether the obligor has withheld payments in the past; (h) past work history; and (i) local job market. 

  1. There is no formula for determining child support obligations

False, Maryland uses Child Support Guidelines to determine child support obligations.  Since 1990, Maryland has used child support guidelines to determine the proportional child support obligations of the parents.  The Guidelines use a formula to determine the amount owed based on each parent’s gross income and time with the child.  The Guidelines are based on the “Income Shares Model” meaning the child is entitled to be financially supported on the same level that the child would be if the parents were living together.  The Guidelines take into account, the custody arrangement (who has primary custody), both parties’ gross monthly income, and certain child-related expenses such as healthcare insurance, daycare, school transportation, and extraordinary medical expenses.  Per Maryland law, there is a rebuttable presumption that the Guidelines amount of child support calculated is the correct amount to be awarded. The presumed Guidelines amount can be rebutted with evidence that requiring the Guidelines payment would be unjust or inappropriate.  The burden is on the party seeking the departure from the Guidelines amount. 

  1. Child support orders can’t be modified if you move.

False, foreign child support orders can be modified and enforced in Maryland.  By statute, the first step that needs to happen if you move and want to make a change to or enforce the child support order is that the out-of-state child support order must be enrolled with the Circuit Court in the Maryland county where you now live.  You would then file to modify and/or enforce the foreign court order, in the Maryland court. In your motion, you specify the grounds for modification.  

Contact KGO Today

The family law attorneys at Krum, Gergely & Oates are committed to assisting you through each stage of litigation and to bring your family law matter to a mutually agreeable resolution.  If you have a family law case in Maryland, including, divorce, custody, or support, contact the experienced family attorneys at Krum, Gergely & Oates, today for a consultation.