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What is Child Support?

Child support is an amount of money that is paid by one parent to the other after they decide to separate or divorce. The funds are generally used to cover children’s education, medical care, transportation, lodging, food and other associated expenses. They help to maintain the child’s standard of living that was established during the family union.

Why Do People Request Child Support?

One partner may ask for child support if the couple’s children live with them. That person may be making less money than their former significant other. They could also be going to school or attending training classes in an effort to help them find suitable employment.

Why Do I Have to Pay Child Support?

A person may voluntarily choose to pay child support. That information should be included in the separation agreement. A judge could also mandate that one party pay child support to their former partner.

All child support agreements should be in writing. That way, they’re easier to prove in a court of law. Verbal agreements may be misconstrued, misinterpreted or dismissed as hearsay.

How Is Child Support Paid?

Child support payments in the state of Maryland are made by taking the requisite amount out of the payor’s wages. People who are required to pay child support must ensure that the Maryland Child Support department has their current employment information. This data should be supplied as soon as possible to avoid possible late or missing payments.

What Happens If I Lose My Job?

You’ll need to pay the agreed upon amount of child support until the agreement has been changed. If you want to have the child support agreement modified, a recent financial statement and a completed Application for Services must be submitted to the respective child support office.

What Percent of my Income Will Go to Child Support?

Unless the amount is stipulated in a marital separation agreement, a child support order will determine how much money will be paid in child support. Courts can use a percentage of income method or an income share method to determine child support payments. As of this writing, the percentage of income method isn’t used by courts to calculate child support.

The income share method takes economic tables into account. The amount of child support that will be paid can vary from one case to another. It will be based on the proportionate amounts of each parent’s annual income. For example, one spouse may earn $3,000 per month and the other earns $1,000 monthly. If the court has decided that the cost of maintaining the child’s standard of living is $1,500 per month, they will order the non-custodial parent to pay 75 percent of that cost, or $1,125 per month, in child support.

Can I Stop Paying Child Support if my Children Now Live with Me?

A motion can be filed to suspend child support payments if the children in question are now living with you on a permanent basis. You may be asked to include a copy of school enrollment or the court order that can verify the custody change when making that motion. The child support office will evaluate this information after it has been received. If you’ve made any child support payments since this motion was filed, they will be placed in escrow and held until a court announces any decisions or changes that will be made.

When Will Child Support Payments End?

If the person receiving child support remarries, child support payments will end once the new marriage is official. Child support payments are usually terminated once a child turns 18. If the affected child is still in high school, the support can be extended to age 19. Child support payments that are in arrears will continue to be paid until the obligation has been paid in full, no matter what the child’s age is.

What Happens If I Can’t Pay Child Support?

You should contact the Customer Care Center if you know that you’re going to be unable to fulfill your child support commitment. A modification may need to be filed with the court. You can plead your case by yourself or with the assistance of legal counsel.

Failure to pay child support or notify the court if you have had your income cut or lost a job can result in penalties. You could be found in contempt of court for failing to pay child support as ordered. Wages, tax refunds and lottery winnings can also be garnished. Unpaid child support could be reported to the department of motor vehicles, which may result in having your driver’s license suspended. It will be reported to the major credit reporting agencies and may also be transmitted to other professional licensing centers, which can hinder your ability to acquire or renew a passport.

Will My Tax Refund Be Used for Child Support Payments?

Depending on the situation, all or part of your state or federal income tax refund could go toward late child support payments. State tax refunds could be taken if the amount that’s past due is the same or equal to twice the monthly support amount and are $150 or more. Federal tax refunds could be applied toward child support if the amount in arrears is the same or equal to twice the monthly support amount and are at least $500 or more.

What Happens If I Miss a Mandatory Court Date?

A warrant could be issued for your arrest if you miss a required court date. This is true even if you’re up to date with your child support payments or have never missed a payment. Court dates may be scheduled to handle elements such as the child’s health insurance, changes to the child support agreement or other matters.

If you need assistance, reach out to us. We’ll sit down with you and listen to your concerns. Our trained professionals can provide advice as to your next steps and even represent you in court.

Child support can be complicated. If you have questions about court-ordered child support, contact us today to arrange a free consultation. We’ll listen to what you have to say and advise you as to possible actions and outcomes. Divorce can be stressful, but knowing what to expect can alleviate some of the anxiety. Our primary goal is to get you on the right path toward a better, brighter future.

If you missed our Guide to Receiving Child Support, check it out here.