There are several types of support that may be available for you through the courts and after you separate from your spouse. The first issue to address are the children and, if you receive custody (either full or less than full), child support. What is paramount to you is how much child support you will receive. No matter who receives custody, both parents must financially contribute to the well being of the children. To make it easier to decide how much financial support each party is to provide, most states (including Maryland) have child support guidelines that the court will follow. The Maryland Child Support Guidelines are presumed to be correct and to be in the best interests of the children. If the child support guidelines are not followed, the court must be provided details describing why the guidelines were not followed. Before the guidelines were implemented, decades ago substantial time was spent in court asserting the financial needs of the children. The guidelines have removed the time-consuming effort in asserting how much was needed to support the child or children. However, even with the guidelines, it typically cost more to raise a child than the guidelines provide. Also how the Court considers income and includes all permitted areas of income will materially affect the amount of monthly child support ordered. Having a lawyer who has knowledge and experience in applying the guidelines will make a major impact in the determination of how much child support is paid.
The Court has the ability to grant temporary or permanent child support. Be knowledgeable about how support is calculated and identify as much financial information that you can regarding your own situation and that of your former spouse. Examples of information needed in order to properly apply the guidelines include but are not limited to: payslips for the past thirteen weeks, income tax returns both federal and state, receipts for child day care services, receipts for usual and customary expenses of running the household and other related expenses. It takes more than a simple request to change the amount of support received and the Court does not take the decision to increase or decrease support lightly. In order for the Court to modify the support, a party has to show a significant change in his/her financial circumstances or that of the spouse.
It is important to keep in mind that there are other financial responsibilities that accompany the children for a parent with custody. For these costs, a party may also request spousal support or family maintenance. The party can ask the Court to consider costs such as the mortgage and household expenses along with the costs for additional children’s activities (i.e. sports, scouts, medical care including extraordinary medical expenses, counselling and therapy costs for you and your children). The Court will look into the many needs of the party requesting support as well as the ability of the other party to contribute to these financial responsibilities.
Of course the party more concerned with these costs will be the parent that gains primary custody of the children. There are different types of custody that can determine the amount of support received. To learn about these, read about the different types of Custody HERE. When deciding which parent gets these types of custody, the court uses the well known approach of “best interest of the child.”
Another important area of support involves alimony and family maintenance. We have a separate article on Alimony that we think you should read.
If you are considering a separation or divorce, it is important for you to understand the many factors that play into the Court’s determination of custody and support. To help understand these, you should contact our Maryland Family Law Attorney as soon as possible to help explain your options. Our Maryland Attorney can help answer the many questions you may have going forward. CONTACT our Columbia Family Lawyer at 410-730-4404 for a Free Initial Consultation.