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Child Support Guidelines

The Child Support Guidelines
(October, 2010)

By Julie Ellen Landau and Shari Beth Domow

On October 1, 2010, for the first time in 22 years, the first revision to Maryland's child support guidelines will become law. This affects anyone paying, receiving or filing for child support.

The revisions to the Maryland’s child support guidelines only apply to child support orders entered after October 1, 2010. For those unfamiliar with the child support guidelines, the amended child support guidelines in Maryland will continue to calculate child support based on a variety of factors, including actual income, child care expenses, special needs, health care expenses and extraordinary medical expenses, particular educational needs, and transportation expenses. The obligee (custodial parent) shall be presumed to spend their portion directly on the child or children, and the obligor (non-custodial parent) shall owe that child support payment to the obligee, minus any ordered payments included in the calculus made directly by the obligor on behalf of the child or children.

The revisions increase the schedule of basic child support obligations to account for increases in the cost of living as well as inflation. The revisions expand the schedule of basic child support obligations from an aggregate of $120,000 per year to include parents with combined adjusted actual incomes of up to $15,000 per month ($180,000 per year). However, the revisions do not apply to parents whose combined actual adjusted incomes exceed $15,000 per month ($180,000 per year). Rather, in “above guidelines” cases, the court utilizes its discretion to determine the child support award amount by examining the reasonable needs of each child taking into account the parents' resources.

Under Maryland Code, Family Law, § 12-204(g) and (l), child care expenses and parent’s share of child support obligations, respectively, the revised child support guidelines replace noncustodial parent with obligor, and custodial parent with obligee.

For the revised child support guidelines to apply to a current order of support after October 1, 2010, the party seeking to modify the order of support must prove the occurrence of a "material change in circumstances." The "material change in circumstances" must affect the level of support a child actually receives, and must be of an ample level to justify judicial modification of the support order. Examples of a "material change in circumstances" may include, but are not limited to: (1) a significant change in either parent's income; (2) a significant increase in each child's expenses, with respect to his or her financial, medical, psychological or educational needs; or (3) a significant change in the number of nights per year that the child spends with each parent.

Julie Ellen Landau is an AV rated Baltimore attorney specializing in domestic relations law.

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