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Maryland child support, custody, visitation, and wage garnishment rules

Use this Maryland child support law to learn about your child support rights and responsibilites.

How is Maryland child support determined?

In Maryland, the courts may order a parent to provide child support. There are specific Maryland Child Support Guidelines, designed to be in the best interests of the child, that the courts use to determine the correct amount of child support. These will be followed, unless both parents agree to an amount other than that calculated by the guidelines, or the courts decide the guidelines are unjust based on these factors:

  • the terms of any marriage settlement agreement
  • the presence in either parent’s household of other children that
    also need to be supported by the parent

The family home may be awarded to the parent with custody of the
child to allow the child continuity in his or her home and
community environment.

The basic child support obligation is divided between the parents in proportion to their share of the combined adjusted actual income amount.  The number of children there are to be supported is also factored in when figuring the child support obligation for the parents.

At what age does child support payments end?

At what point does the obligation to pay child support endMaryland Generally, the obligation ends when the child reaches 18 years of age or the child graduates from high school, whichever occurs later. A child will also automatically be ineligible for child support if that child marries, is removed from disability status by a court order, or the child dies.

Maryland's custody guidelines:

Generally, the parents agree upon decisions about custody. If there is no agreement, then the courts will make these custody decisions. In Maryland, joint or sole custody may be awarded to either or both parents, based on the best interests of the child. Custody may be denied if a parent seeking custody has abused the child. The courts will make an effort to allow the child to live in the environment and community that are most familiar to him or her. Generally the courts will allow the parent with custody of the child to use and possess the family home.

Maryland's medical insurance guidelines:

Generally, the decision as to which parent is going to provide medical insurance coverage for the child and how medical bills will be paid is set out in the marital settlement agreement. Usually, if a reasonable medical insurance plan is available through one of the parent’s employment, they are required to cover their child on it.

How permanent are the provisions for Maryland child support and custody ?

Court orders providing for support and custody of children are subject to change or modification to reflect significant changes in income, and/or living arrangements of the children.

While all orders concerning the children are modifiable in the future, we encourage you to not enter into an agreement based on the idea that it can always be changed or modified later.

Wage garnishment for child support payments:

Yes. Maryland, like most states, has a provision for withholding child support directly from the earnings of the parent who has been ordered to provide support. It is withheld much like income tax is withheld from earnings payments.

This way of paying and receiving child support is generally easier for both parties and considered a very dependable solution. The way it typically works is, once the support is withheld, it is then sent to the state agency authorized to receive and disburse payments. Once it has been verified that the support was paid, it is then sent to the parent designated to receive the support.

If a non-custodial parent can show that they are providing more than 50 percent of the support for dependents not included in the court order from a second marriage, and is not in arrears, no more than 50% of their disposable income can be attached if they cannot pay the full court-ordered amount of both orders.

That number goes to 55% if the non-custodial parent is in arrears, 60 percent for a person only providing support to dependents under the current order, and 65% for a person who is in arrears and paying only on the current order.

How does joint custody work?

The current trend is to encourage parents to work together for the best interests of their children. Joint custody is now widely recognized by parents, courts and state legislatures as the preferred parenting plan for divorcing parents.

Specifically, joint custody is a form of custody of minor children that requires both parents to share the responsibilities of the children, and for both parents to approve all major decisions related to the children.

While joint custody is a 50-50 sharing of responsibilities and major decisions affecting the children, it rarely works out to be a 50-50 sharing of time with the children. Usually one parent is named as the primary joint custodian and the other parent is granted visitation. The primary joint custodian typically retains the decision making power to determine the child’s primary residence and school and to designate things such as the child’s primary physician.

How Maryland determines child visitation:

Generally, parents are free to visit with their children at all times that are mutually agreed to by both parents. However, when parents cannot agree, the standard visitation schedule accepted most everywhere in the nation is:

  • every other weekend
  • four to six (4-6) weeks during the summer
  • alternating holidays
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