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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