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Maryland uses an "income shares" model to calculate child support, which is referred to as the Maryland Child Support Guidelines. The income shares model is based on the concept that the child should receive the same proportion of parental income that the child would have received in an intact family. Child support is based on the monthly gross income of each party (before taxes). The guidelines take into account both parents' income, how many minor children are in the family, the cost of health insurance for the children, the access schedule for each parent, and the costs of child care and extraordinary medical expenses.
For purposes of calculating child support, “income” means income from any source, which can include any of the following:
When one parent voluntarily quits their job to avoid paying child support, the court can consider that parent to be “voluntarily impoverished.” If it this is proven, the court will still treat that parent as if they are earning income and will “impute” income to them for purposes of calculating child support.
If one parent has primary physical custody of the minor children, and the other parent has less than 35% of overnights during the year (128 overnights or fewer) then the primary physical custody guidelines worksheet will be used to calculate child support. If the parties have a shared physical custody schedule, so that both parents have at least 35% of overnights during the year, then it is appropriate to use the shared physical custody guidelines worksheet.
If the combined income between the parents is less than $180,000 per year, or $15,000 per month, then the Maryland Child Support Guidelines will be used to calculate child support. However, if the combined income between the parties exceeds $180,000 per year, then the court will have discretion in establishing the child support amount.
Under Maryland law, child support is to be paid until the minor child reaches the age of 18. If the child turns 18 during his senior year of high school, child support must be paid until the child turns 18 or graduates, whichever first occurs.
Child support is always modifiable in Maryland, meaning that the amount can increase or decrease. However, the party seeking to modify has the burden of establishing that there has been a material change in circumstance that warrants modification of the child support. This can mean that a parent has lost a job; a parent is making less money; a parent is making more money; or other changes in circumstances.