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New Laws Affect Child Support Payments and Estate Inheritances

November 2019

By: Brian A. Balenson, Kerianne P. Kemmerzell, and Ferrier R. Stillman

In the 2019 session, the Maryland legislature passed a law affecting child support payments and another law governing estate distributions. These statutes impact divorcing couples and the practice of family law.

Share of Intestate Estate Inherited by Spouse:

Beginning October 1, 2020, if a married person does not have a will in effect at the time of their death, the distribution of that person’s estate upon their death may be based in part on the length of the marriage.  For example, if a husband was married to his spouse for less than 5 years at the time of his death, and the husband does not have any surviving children, then his spouse receives $40,000, plus half of the remainder of the estate, and his surviving parents receive the other half.  However, if he was married to his spouse for more than 5 years at the time of his death, and does not have any surviving children, then his spouse receives the entire estate.  If he has surviving children at the time of his death, his surviving children and his spouse, regardless of the length of the marriage, split the estate, with his spouse receiving half if there is a surviving minor child, or the first $40,000 plus half of the remainder of the estate if none of the surviving children are minors.  These results can be avoided with proper estate planning and through a well-written marital separation agreement, prenuptial agreement, or postnuptial agreement.

Child Support - Extraordinary Medical Expenses:

The Maryland child support guidelines require that parents divide, in proportion to their respective incomes, the payment of extraordinary medical expenses for a minor child.  Beginning October 1, 2019, the definition of “extraordinary medical expense” changed to include uninsured costs for medical treatment for a minor child in excess of $250 in any calendar year. Those uninsured costs now include costs for vision care.  The prior definition defined “extraordinary medical expenses” as an uninsured cost for medical treatment in excess of $100 per single incident or condition and did not include vision care.

If you have questions about these or other family law issues, contact Ferrier Stillman or Kerianne Kemmerzell.  If you have questions about Maryland’s estate distribution provisions or other estate planning issues, contact Brian Balenson.  The firm has offices in Baltimore and in Towson.

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