Maryland uses a set of child support guidelines in determining child support payments. Generally speaking, the custodial parent receives child support from the non-custodial parent. Shared physical custody may present complications, but a Maryland court will still rely on the guidelines in most cases.
The child support analysis typically begins with each of the parent's monthly income, which is income received from wages, salary, Social Security, workers' compensation and other sources. It does not include income from public assistance that is based on a means test, such as food stamps and temporary cash assistance. The court will adjust the monthly income for any amounts the parent pays in pre-existing child support or spousal support. Once income has been established, the court will examine monthly expenses including day care and health insurance costs, as well as medical expenses that health insurance does not cover. Anyone seeking child support will be required to file a financial statement detailing income and expenses.
In most cases, the court will arrive at a child support amount by comparing the income and expense information with the guidelines. In rare cases, the court may order child support in an amount lower than the amount suggested by the guidelines, but only if it can be demonstrated that the deviation is in the best interests of the child or children involved. For example, the non-custodial parent may request lower payments because of a temporary increase in training or education expenses. If the court is convinced that the lower payment will lead to greater stability in the future, it may order lower payments temporarily.
Ordering payments in amounts greater than those suggested is more common, but still rare. In cases where the parents' combined monthly income is greater than $15,000, the court need not take the child support guidelines into account. A family law attorney can answer questions about the operation of the guidelines in a particular case as well as help a client during court proceedings on the issue.
Source: peoples-law.org, "Calculating Child Support", September 14, 2014