Defending Clients in Child Support Cases
Despite the fact that Maryland, like most states, has adopted child support guidelines, I have found, as a Howard County Family Law Attorney practicing throughout Maryland, that it is prudent to have a lawyer represent you in this important matter. The outcome of the child support hearing results in an obligation for many years. We cannot guarantee success, yet often it can be cost effective to have an attorney review your case and discuss possible defenses.
Maryland has adopted child support guidelines which are called the Maryland Child Support Guidelines. Applying the Guidelines is not difficult. There are instructions that can be followed. It is a step by step process. Go to the following link: GUIDELINES. You will need to know the income of each party and the amount of the monthly health insurance premium. Also, it is necessary to compute the monthly income of each party and to know how much of the insurance premium is solely attributable to the child. For example, let’s assume that one party who is paying for the monthly health insurance premium has what is called a “family” or “parent and child” plan. The way to determine how much of the total monthly premium is solely attributable to a child or more than one child is to find out what it would cost for the monthly premium of the paying party only and subtract that amount from the total family and child premium. Let’s assume the monthly premium is $750 for the parent and child plan and the cost for the adult alone is $550. So the $550 is subtracted from the $750 which equals $200. Therefore the amount of the monthly insurance plan that is solely attributable to the child or children is $200 per month. There are other examples of the knowledge and expertise that a lawyer has which can be useful, such as how to determine the amount of additional income that does not appear on the opposing party’s W2. Some of the additional income can include expense reimbursements or in-kind payments received by a parent while employed, self-employment, ownership of a business, and are further characterized as paying personal expenses. Discretionary payments such as contributions to pension or 401k plans are factored into the actual income and applied to the Guidelines. Governmental programs such as Supplemental Security Income, food stamps, public assistance, medical assistance, and housing are not included as income.
We attempt to counsel clients in understanding that the cost of raising a child often includes more than the amount that the paying parent is required to pay under the Maryland Child Support Guidelines. Also, and equally important, is that the paying of child support benefits your child even if some of the funds seem as though they are used solely for the mother or father of your child or children.
In the two most recent child support cases that I handled, both resulted in dismissals. The first was a Uniform Reciprocal Support Act (URESA) case which was entirely dismissed. The second was a case where the hearing was dismissed and the Howard County Circuit Court judge directed the Department of Social Services here to notify the Department of Social Services in Minnesota that there was a pending case in Minnesota between the parents of the child. As a result of our research and gathering of information about the petitioner/plaintiff, we were able to present an argument which persuaded the Court to take the action that it did. Your case may not have facts similar to the cases described above. Past success is no guarantee of future success. Each case has elements and facts that are often unique and our strategy will be affected by your need and situation.
The previously described examples and the following example demonstrate how a lawyer can be helpful in obtaining a reasonable result. A monthly saving of $35 in the amount of child support you pay can, over a period of 60 months (5 years), result in a total saving of $2100. Savings in larger amounts may result in much larger benefits to the client.
When you meet with me, you should bring the following information for you and your spouse:
- Both state and federal income tax returns for the past 3 years
- Pay stubs for the past 3 months.
- Extraordinary Medical Expenses
If you have a child support issue, please do not hesitate to contact our Maryland Family Law Attorney in Howard County. Our Columbia, MD lawyer can review your case, discuss your options and defenses, and work to get a reasonable result for you. Call our Columbia Office at 410-730-4404.