Laurie M. Wasserman
Understanding the Recent Changes to Maryland’s Child Support Law
Maryland has recently updated its Child Support Guidelines. In this post, we discuss three important changes and help keep co-parents informed on how these revisions to child support in Maryland may affect their families. If you have any further questions about any of these changes, or simply want to discuss any of this legislature further, we welcome you to contact us at 410-842-1070.
An Increase in Child Support for Certain Families
As of July 1, 2022, the amount of child support has increased for parents with a combined annual income of more than $19,200. Additionally, co-parents with a combined monthly income ranging from $15,000 and $30,000 are now subject to Maryland’s basic child support schedule and obligations. Prior to July 1, 2022, the use of the Maryland child support guidelines was discretionary for families with a combined monthly income that exceeded $15,000 per month, so that amount has now increased to $30,000 per month. Co-parents with a combined income of up to $360,000 can now expect the child support guidelines to apply to any case filed after July 1, 2022. For co-parents with a combined adjusted annual income of more than $360,000, the court will still have the authority to deviate from the guidelines, if the deviation is found to be in the best interest of the children on a case by case basis. Maryland’s child support guidelines will also now take into consideration parents at lower income levels and will allow courts the authority to calculate the amount of money required for them to support themselves before being asked to pay for child support.
A major change to the child support statute in Maryland in 2022 involves defining “voluntary impoverishment” for parents. Defined as “the free and conscious choice, not compelled by factors beyond the parent’s control, to render the parent without adequate resources,” voluntary impoverishment can be determined by the court if a parent willingly chooses to forego opportunities that would allow them to pay for child support. To determine whether a parent is voluntarily impoverished, Maryland courts will determine the parent’s “potential income” via an analysis of the following factors:
physical and behavioral condition
level of education
special training or skills
occupational qualifications and job skills
current total income
employment and earnings history
record of efforts to obtain and retain employment
criminal record and other employment barriers
employment opportunities in the area where the parent lives
When evaluating the level of employment opportunities in the area where the parent lives, the courts will analyze the status of a parent’s local job market, prevailing earnings levels, and the relative availability of employers who are willing to hire the parent.
While the effectiveness of Maryland’s courts to determine voluntary impoverishment remains to be seen, this new addition to the state’s child support statute is potentially very good news for those who have been struggling to receive proper child support from their co-parents due to a voluntary decision not to be employed.
How Maryland Courts Can Choose to Decline a Child Support Order
Changes to Maryland’s child support statute also include increased authority for state courts to decline ordering child support in certain cases. The declination is expected to primarily apply to orders wherein the parent resides with the child and is already providing support.
Maryland courts may also decline to order child support under the following conditions:
The parent is unemployed or generally lacks the financial resources from which to pay child support.
The parent is currently incarcerated and is expected to remain so during the period where they are legally obligated to provide child support.
The parent is currently institutionalized within a psychiatric care facility or rehabilitation center and is expected to remain so during the period when they are legally obligated to provide child support.
The parent is unable to find or maintain employment due to a total and permanent disability and receives no income aside from disability benefits.
The parent is currently unable to find or maintain employment because of compliance with criminal detainment, hospitalization, or a rehabilitation treatment plan.
With such significant changes in place to Maryland’s child support statute, parents may need to reassess the current agreements they share with their co-parents. As always, our team is ready and willing to work with you and your family to better understand these changes and provide guidance where necessary.
If you have questions about child support, please contact Laurie Wasserman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 410-842-1070. The legal team at the Law Office of Laurie M. Wasserman is here to help guide and advocate for you.
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