Monthly Archives: November 2021

Can I Expedite a Change in Custody if I Fear My Child Is in Danger?

During, or leading up to, a family court proceeding in Maryland, a parent might fear that their child faces undue risk under the prevailing shared or partial custody arrangement, or if there is no custodial arrangement in place. If you fear your child is in danger and want to request immediate intervention, your concerns must meet the court’s strict standards to obtain an emergency or expedited hearing and potential relief.

If you believe your child is in danger, here are your options depending on your specific circumstances:

  1. Ex Parte Relief. This court motion seeks emergency relief, including immediate, same-day custodial intervention. This type of court intervention is granted in extreme situations. The “substantial risk of imminent and irreparable harm to a child” must be “clearly shown”. A parent must file a motion for immediate custody, including notice to the opposing parent or guardian that they are intending to file the next day. The court presents this motion to the presiding family court judge. Ruling may be issued on the filing alone, or sometimes a hearing is required. If granted, the judge enters a “temporary order of custody,” pending a full hearing on the issue. If a family court case is not already open, the party must file an underlying case, such as a Complaint for Custody.

  2. Emergency Relief. If the family court deems the circumstances to be an emergency, they will review the parent’s motion for emergency relief and if granted, schedule a hearing to be held within 10-14 days of filing. This parent must show that harm is likely to come to the child if the relief is not granted. For example, disputes regarding scheduling a medical procedure or enrollment in a school that begins in the fall might lead a court to grant legal custody on an emergency basis to one parent for purposes of these time-sensitive matters. For this type of matter, there must already be a pending underlying matter where both a Complaint and Answer have been filed.

  3. Expedited Relief. If the concern is not deemed an emergency, a parent may file a motion for expedited relief. Expedited relief will not change custody as quickly as ex parte or emergency relief, but it does allow for quicker consideration of the custody decision within the scheduled course of the family law case. Expedited relief might be granted when custody issues involve visitation deprivation, and the inability to enroll a child in summer camp or other time-sensitive programs.

  4. Holiday Intervention. Custody disputes involving holiday travel and visitation are rampant, and many jurisdictions offer additional resources when seeking relief related to holiday disputes, such as mediation and hearings to address this narrow issue.

An emergency in the eyes of a parent is not always an emergency in the eyes of the court. How to proceed and what to file with the Court should be carefully considered and prepared. Court motions should also include comprehensive affidavits from all parties with knowledge of the immediate harm that is likely to come to the child. The attorneys at TNS Family Law have vast experience strategizing and preparing the requisite documentation to present a parent’s case for immediate custodial relief.

If you have questions about emergency changes in custody, please contact Turnbull, Nicholson & Sanders, P.A. at (410) 339-4100 or Our team of family law attorneys is here to help guide you.

Related Posts: 
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Maryland Child Custody Laws
Can I Modify My Child Custody Agreement?

Child Support in Maryland

When a Maryland family law case involves children, the Court prioritizes their best interests, not only through a custodial arrangement but through the financial obligations and responsibilities of each parent. Maryland’s child support guidelines have been formulated so that each parent is contributing to the needs of their children based upon a proportion of the parent’s gross income.

In a child support case, each parent must submit detailed financial statements to be examined by the Court. The numbers are then applied to the child support guidelines established by the State in 1990, which have since been updated and amended by the Legislature.

Child support can be ordered on a pendente lite basis, meaning pending litigation, if you have an ongoing divorce case, and permanently, meaning at the conclusion of a pending case. Modifications to a child support order can be made only if the court finds a material change of circumstances, such as the involuntary loss of a job or if one child emancipates and there are fewer minor children.


Important Aspects of Child Support in Maryland

In Maryland, child support is paid to the “custodial parent,” or the parent with whom the children primarily reside. Child support payments are made directly to the custodial parent.

The “non-custodial parent” is the parent with whom the children reside for less than 25% of the year. However, even in circumstances of shared custody, there may be a child support obligation from one parent to the other based upon the child support guidelines calculation.

Child support obligations end when a child becomes emancipated. This typically occurs when the child reaches the age of 18, or if still in high school at that time, when the child graduates.

When it comes to taxes and income, the paying parent may not deduct child support payments from their income when filing taxes. Child support is not considered an income for the custodial parent who receives the payments.

Parents are free to agree, contractually, upon their own child support arrangements—so long as the numbers do not deviate vastly from Maryland’s formula. Child support is a benefit to the child, so parents cannot agree to waive that right to child support.


How Child Support Is Calculated in Maryland

Under Maryland Code, Family Law 12-204, child support is divided between the parents in proportion to their adjusted income.

However, the Court may assign an income (“imputed income”) to a parent who is “voluntarily impoverished”—earning little to no income by choice. Imputed or potential income may not be assigned to a parent who is unable to work as a result of mental or physical disability or is caring for a child under the age of 2 years.

The Court will use the child support formula to factor in child care expenses, including health insurance and child care when necessary for the custodial parent to maintain a job. The Court will also take into consideration whether the paying parent is also required to pay alimony.

Some expenses are considered joint responsibility of the parents, including expenses involved with private school tuitions, or for transportation between the homes of the parents. These expenses may be divided by the court between the parents in proportion to their adjusted actual incomes.  


The Modification of Child Support

Even though child support is determined and finalized by the Court at the conclusion of a proceeding, the Court retains jurisdiction over the minor children, such that child support (and custody) are subject to subsequent modification. However, there must be a material change of circumstance proven before a modification of child support is considered. The following circumstances may be determined to be material changes of circumstance, but certainly may vary based upon the facts specific to each case:

  • A significant change in the child’s needs, including an increased cost of living for the child or family as a whole.
  • A parent becomes unemployed or experiences a significant decrease in income.
  • A parent begins to earn substantially higher wages following a job change or promotion.
  • A parent’s income increases significantly following a remarriage.
  • A parent becomes disabled, requiring decreased work hours and/or resources applied to the disability.

Child support is often a complicated issue in a divorce proceeding. At TNS Family Law, our attorneys can help ensure the optimal child support arrangement for both the children and the family unit.

If you have questions about child support, please contact Turnbull, Nicholson & Sanders, P.A. at (410) 339-4100 or Our team of family law attorneys is here to help guide you.

Related Posts: 
Maryland Child Custody Laws
Can I Modify My Child Custody Agreement?
Maryland Divorce FAQs

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