An order to pay child support is common among many divorced parents, but it is often unclear exactly how these obligations are determined. The details of a child support order can differ greatly between cases, with some parents easily able to make scheduled monthly payments while others struggle even after working multiple jobs. Understanding how their own child support obligations are calculated in accordance with Maryland law can help non-custodial parents determine if they are paying a fair amount of child support.
Because there are no national laws or regulations governing child support orders, each state determines appropriate payments based on unique sets of factors. For instance, Maryland family courts consider both a non-custodial and custodial parent's gross monthly income, the cost of a child's care, how often the child stays with the paying parent, insurance policies and existing alimony orders when calculating how much support a parent must provide. In doing so, courts asses the child's financial, educational and other needs.
A non-custodial parent's other obligations are typically considered when calculating child support as well, such as other existing child support orders, taxes and loan payments. Because courts often prefer to give a child enough support so as to allow a standard of living enjoyed before his or her parents' divorce, however, sometimes a non-custodial parent is saddled with an unaffordable obligation. Additionally, courts may order the parent to pay more than he or she earns if they feel the parent is bringing in less income than his or her potential allows.
As such, many parents in Maryland and other encounter legal issues from failing to make child support payments that are unrealistic or unreasonable given their circumstances. In such cases, these parents can seek a child support modification in hopes of having their monthly obligation permanently reduced to a more appropriate figure.
Source: Reuters, "How Child Support Calculations Work," Andrew Lu, Aug. 12, 2012