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What is child support?

Child support is a certain dollar amount that is paid to the person who has physical custody of a couple’s children. This usually begins after a separation or divorce. The exact amount and duration of those payments should be clearly specified before the first payment begins.

How is child support paid?

Couples may proactively decide who will pay child support and the payment amounts and intervals as part of their marital settlement agreement. If they cannot reach an agreement, the judge presiding over the divorce proceedings may make those decisions for them. Child support should be structured that neither parent is put at an unfair advantage.

Who determines child support?

The total number of children that the couple had and the combined income of the parents will be taken into consideration when child support is requested. Each partner will be assigned a certain percentage of support that they must provide according to their income. For example, let’s say that one parent earns $7,000 per month and the other parent earns $3,000 per month. The first parent would be responsible for 70 percent of the support, and the second parent would be responsible for the remaining 30 percent.

What’s the average amount of child support that is paid?

As of this writing, the average child support in the state of Maryland is 66.6 percent for the parent who does not have custody of their children. They would pay $666 in child support per month on average. Of course, this can vary depending on the situation. Any amounts that are stipulated in the marital settlement agreement would supersede the traditional average.

What’s the minimum and maximum child support that can be received?

The minimum child support payment for Maryland is currently set at $2,847 for a combined monthly income of $15,000. The most a person could pay for child support in the state is $180,000 annually, or $15,000 per month. Of course, the parents’ income and other contributing factors will influence the monthly and yearly child support amounts for each case.

How far back can child support be backdated?

Child support can be retroactive. This may be necessary if the parent who was ordered to pay lost a job, was sentenced to prison or moved out of state. Child support can be backdated all the way back to when the initial complaint was made with the respective court. Support requests cannot be backdated for more than four years for unmarried couples.

Can I refuse to make child support payments if I’m denied access to my child?

People who have been ordered to make child support payments cannot stop those payments if the custodial parent has denied them visitation or access to their child. If this happens, the payor should contact their lawyer or the court. The custodial parent cannot deny the other parent their legally given access and visitation rights.

Do I still need to pay child support if I’m currently unemployed?

Until the child support order is changed by a judge, the parent who is required to pay child support must continue to make those payments. The court could opt to go after the payor’s retirement account, lottery winnings or other sources of income if that person is currently unemployed. It’s a good idea to let the court know if you have lost a job or have been unemployed for any reason.

What happens if I don’t pay court ordered child support?

It’s possible that you could be jailed for failure to pay child support. Judges have sentenced parents who have failed to make those mandated payments on time. If you are unable to pay the mandated child support payments for any reason, contact the court to inform them of your status. Unpaid child support could be reported to the three major credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion and Experian), which can in turn negatively affect your credit score.

Can my wages be garnished?

The Office of Child Support Enforcement may file a Wage Garnishment Order if necessary. This will allow those payments to be taken from your regular paychecks, worker’s compensation, employment benefits and other sources of income. This may include lottery winnings, retirement accounts and personal checking or savings accounts. In addition to reporting missing payments to the credit reporting agencies, that information may also be sent to recreational and professional licensing centers. This may make it more difficult to renew your passport and could even result in having your driver’s license suspended.

Can I dispute child support requests?

If you feel that the child support payments that you’ve been ordered to pay are unfair or inaccurate, you may want to discuss that matter with the judge. You can also contact the local Child Support Administration office.

How long do I have to keep making child support payments?

Child support payments will continue until the termination date if one is specified in the marital settlement agreement or in the divorce decree. If an end date was not given, the payments will cease once the affected child turns 18 years old. Child support will also end if the custodial parent who was receiving those funds gets remarried. In that event, payments will terminate once the new marriage is official.

How long does it take to receive my first child support payment?

It may take a month or two before the payee receives the initial child support check. Child support will be effective from the date when the order was first issued. Payments should start arriving monthly as long as the payor adheres to the agreement.

Can I refuse child support?

Custodial parents aren’t allowed to waive or refuse child support. That benefit is something that belongs to the affected children. Parents cannot simply decide to refuse that money or donate it to a charity or use that money for another purpose.

Child support can be complicated. If you have questions, we have answers. Contact us today to set up a no-obligation consultation. Our trained professionals will address your concerns and provide valuable insight and recommendations. We can even represent you during the divorce proceedings if you want.

Preparing for child support can be quite an adjustment. It’s something that parents on both sides will need to budget for accordingly. You may need to keep detailed records just in case you’re asked to verify your expenses and income. Knowing what to expect can make things easier and allow for a less stressful divorce. You’ll probably be back to your old happy self again in no time.