The end of a marriage brings with it the end of a cohesive family unit. It does not signal the end of the parents’ obligation to support the welfare of their child, however. Regardless of who has physical custody of the child or children, both parents are legally bound to provide for them financially.
The concept of child support is a familiar one to most people. However, if you are a parent in the process of a divorce, this may be your first direct experience. For anyone about to divorce or separate, here is a brief overview of some lesser-known facts about child support in Maryland.
Factors that influence child support amounts
Parents are free to establish their own support payments, if they can agree to an amount together, or through mediation sessions. Deciding not to make support payments is not an option.
If the parents are unable to reach an agreement outside of a courtroom, a judge will make the decision for them. The judge will begin with a set of guidelines that allow for a calculation based on the gross income of each parent. Other factors for consideration may include:
- If the non-custodial parent is paying support to other children already
- Income available from a new spouse or partner
- Availability of non-employment income such as investments and property holdings
- Other financial obligations
Supporting a lifestyle may mean additional payments
When a judge assesses the needs of a child, he or she may find cause to award extra support in addition to the standard monthly payments. As an example, the judge could order the non-custodial parent to maintain the children as the beneficiaries of his or her life or health insurance. Other specific payment orders outside of normal support could include:
- Uninsured medical or dental expenses
- Daycare fees
- Private school tuition
- Transportation costs
- Music lessons
In short, the court will try as best as possible to allow the child to continue to live in the manner to which he or she is accustomed, so long as it is financially feasible.
Look out for your child’s best interests; we will see to yours
Determining child support can become a tricky business, especially when it’s done in a court of law. Preparing for your time in court may help you achieve a truly fair settlement.
To help you prepare thoroughly, it may be advantageous to work alongside an experienced lawyer. A lawyer who has successfully handled numerous child support cases and other family law issues in Maryland will see to it that your rights are protected while fighting for your future best interests.