In this article, you will learn about:
- At what stage is child support awarded in a Maryland custody or divorce proceeding.
- The different factors that affect how custody is determined in a divorce.
- What factors affect the amount of child support awarded by the court.
How Is Custody Determined In A Maryland Divorce?
In Maryland, there are many factors that the court considers when determining custody.
As a general matter, the court will operate on the presumption that a child is best served when the child has ample time with both parents. Unfortunately, disputes often arise between parents which can complicate the question of how much time their child spends with each parent. Despite these issues, the Court will almost always look for a schedule in which the child will have both parents in their life.
While the Court often starts with the presumption that equal time with each parent is best for the child, factors may be present that will “move the needle” in one direction or another. For example, the geographical proximity between the parents can heavily influence the child’s schedule. If the parents live far apart from one another, it may be the case that the child needs to spend the majority of their school week with one parent, while the other parent receives certain weekend and holiday time. Of course, every case presents different circumstances for the Court to consider, but preserving the child’s sense of routine and stability is paramount.
Regarding who will have legal custody, the Court will undoubtedly look at the parent’s ability to communicate with one another. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon that there has been a breakdown of communication between the parties. This breakdown can be for various reasons, including one parent completely refusing to speak to the other or both parents having lost their ability to find common ground on issues relating to their child. Among other factors, the Court will evaluate the parents’ ability to communicate about the child and make decisions in the child’s best interests to determine legal custody of the child.
When Is Child Support Awarded In The Divorce Or Custody Process?
The point of awarding child support in the divorce or custody process may vary, depending on the case.
The Court can award child support on a temporary basis at the Pendente Lite Hearing, which is typically several months after the start of the case. The Court will also always address child support at the conclusion of the case.
Additionally, the Court may date the child support obligation retroactively to the date that the case was started. By way of example, let’s assume a parent filed a Complaint for Custody or Divorce on January 1, 2022 in which that parent seeks child support. The case may not go to trial until at least a year later. During the trial, the Court determines that the parent who filed their Complaint will be awarded Five Hundred Dollars ($500) per month in child support. In this situation, the Court may decide to award child support retroactively to the date that the Complaint was filed on January 1, 2020.
In short, while child support may not be awarded until later on in your case, the Court may award child support retroactively to the date of filing that will be included at the time of the award.
How Is Child Support Calculated Under Maryland Law?
In order to calculate child support in the State of Maryland, Maryland Courts use the Maryland Child Support Guidelines. This is often referred to as a “child support calculator” or other names to refer to the mathematical calculation of child support.
The Maryland Child Support Guidelines take into account a number of different factors, including each party’s gross income (before-tax income), along with the number of overnights that each parent has throughout the course of the year. Generally speaking, one parent who has significantly more overnights than the other parent is more likely to receive child support. However, there are a number of other factors which are taken into account, including the cost of health insurance for the child, work-related daycare costs and other medical expenses for the child.
For more information on Child Custody Issues In A Maryland Divorce, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (410) 650-4242 today.