Introduction to Child Support
I am Fredric G. Antenberg, an attorney with over 30 years’ experience assisting clients in Howard County and other counties in Central Maryland in family law and child support legal matters. Let me share with you some of the central issues I have encountered with clients in the area of child support
Informal Agreements: Despite the fact that there is an objective method for determining the amount for each month’s child support, many parents have an informal agreement s to the amount of each month’s child support payment.
The informal agreements are typically below the court-required amount of child support. The understated amount is substantially below the amount that is required under the Maryland Child Support Guidelines and fails because of a lack of understanding as to how the guideline apply with regard to:
- How income is determined
- Basic support
- Child care
- Health Insurance
- Extraordinary medical expenses
- Sole custody versus shared custody and
- Other factors.
Having over 30 years’ experience handling child support cases in Howard County and surrounding Maryland counties, I will apply the Maryland Child Support Guidelines properly. Through negotiations with opposing counsel, the child support can be resolved and made part of a written child support consent agreement which can then be sent to the court with a proposed order. That proposed order can then be signed by a judge. Often, by consent of the mother and father, the parents may not be required to attend a court hearing except where a judge exercises his or her discretion and that most often occurs when there is a shared custody agreement. However, there are counties in Maryland, such as Talbot County, for example, that require the attendance of mother and father at the hearing.
Where there are other issues beyond child support, the moving party in a divorce is required to appear with a corroborating witness to testify that one or both parents are fit and proper persons to have custody.
Denial by Non-paying Parent: Many non-paying child support parents are in denial or do not consider they have responsibility to pay child support at all. They may have anger issues towards the other parent and do not realize the courts will order child support under the Maryland Child Support Guidelines because it is in the best interests of the child for both parents to support the child. Even if the custodial parent is financially affluent and solely supports the child, the non-paying parent will likely be ordered a percentage of the child support guidelines.
Occasionally a non-paying presumed parent will challenge the paternity of the child and the courts may then, through DNA testing, determine paternity. The process is simple. The court will order the father, mother, and child to appear at a DNA laboratory wherein the blood will be obtained from each individual and the laboratory will provide a detailed written report stating who the parent of the child is.
Maryland Child Support Guidelines: Here is a link to the Maryland Child Support Guidelines on my website for your use in calculating child support. Alternatively, you can “google” Maryland Child Support Guidelines and use that resource. You may not know the income of the other parent but you can do three separate applications. Select your income as one of the three separate applications and for the other two applications, use 20% above your income and 20% below your income. If you are not working, possibly because your child is below 2 years of age or you are temporarily unable to work, show “0” income. However, if the other parent drives an expensive vehicle or has an affluent lifestyle, select projected and anticipated incomes for that parent.
The child support responsibility ends at age 18 with a number of exceptions. However, parents may, through a property settlement agreement, voluntarily contractually agree to support the child beyond age 18. Often this occurs when one or both of the parents agree to pay for college, including but not limited to tuition, fees, books, housing, transportation, and other related expenses. The parties may verbally agree but to be legally enforceable, it is best to have a written agreement.
Fred Antenberg has over 30 years’ family law experience dealing with child support cases. Call Fred today for a consultation at 410-730-4404.