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Newly Enacted Revisions to Maryland's Child Support Law

Family Law Alert - September 2010

September 23, 2010

By: Ferrier R. Stillman

On October 1, 2010, the first revision to Maryland's child support guidelines law, which was enacted 22 years ago, will go into effect.  Therefore, anyone filing for, paying, or receiving child support, and their professional advisors, will want to take note of the important changes to the child support law.

Here are the details:

  • The new law applies to child support orders entered after October 1, 2010.
  • The schedule of basic child support obligations will be adjusted upward to account for increases in the cost of living and inflation. =
  • The schedule of basic child support obligations will be expanded to include parents with combined adjusted actual incomes of up to $15,000 per month (or $180,000 per year).  This is a considerable increase from the current guidelines, which are only used when the parents have a combined adjusted actual income of up to $10,000 per month (or $120,000 per year).
  • The new law does not impact cases where the parents have a combined actual adjusted income over $15,000 per month.  In those instances, the court has discretion to set the amount of the child support award, and must examine the child(ren)'s reasonable needs in light of the parents' resources.  However, extrapolation from the new guidelines will still occur, on a case-by-case basis, as has been done in the past, for parents whose combined incomes are above the guidelines.
  • The law presumes that the guidelines provide the correct amount of child support to be awarded.  That presumption may be rebutted with evidence demonstrating that the application of the guidelines in a particular case would be unjust or inappropriate.   

The passage of the new guidelines law does not automatically entitle all individuals paying or receiving child support to a modification of child support.  Rather, any party seeking to modify an existing order of support must prove the occurrence of a "material change in circumstances."  That "material change" must be relevant to the level of support a child is actually receiving, and of sufficient magnitude 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 increase or decrease in either parent's income; (2) a significant increase in the child(ren)'s expenses, which relate to their financial, medical, psychological, or educational needs; or (3) a significant change in the number of overnights per year that the child(ren) spend with each parent.  If, after October 1, 2010, the court finds that modification is appropriate, then the modified order will be governed by the new guidelines.

If you have any questions about the revisions to the child support guidelines law and how they may affect you or your clients, please contact Ferrier R. Stillman at 410.752.9731 or email.

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