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Usually, the non-custodial parent pays child support, but sometimes the parent who earns the most money will pay—even if they have shared custody. Either parent can be obligated to pay child support based on their income and based on the number of overnights they have with their children. A mathematical calculation is made based on these two factors. The chart used by the courts is rooted in the number of overnights each parent has with the children. Historically, 128 nights per year was the threshold number of overnights, meaning that anything over 128 would result in joint residential custody, and anything below 128 would result in sole residential custody. The change in the law drops the threshold to 92 overnights. Anyone with more than 92 overnights has shared custody in relation to the child support law.

This chart also factors in extraordinary medical expenses that one parent is paying, health insurance costs, and daycare expenses. A lot of parents want to include private school tuition, but that usually isn’t included unless it’s for a disability. If the parents earn over $30,000 a month combined, then the court has more discretion to decide about how much child support is appropriate, because they would be outside of the guidelines. Those are the basic ways the court determines child support.

What Can Be Done If Someone Fails To Pay Child Support?

In Maryland, a person can apply for child support through the Child Support Enforcement Administration, which is staffed by attorneys who can aid in the process. Alternatively, a parent can file for child support with their own motion through the court.

When there is an order for child support and child support payments are not being made, the Child Support Enforcement Administration can suspend the driver’s license of the parent who is violating the order, as well as calculate the child support arrears and take over the parent’s paychecks to pay the obligation.

A parent also has a right to file for contempt of that child support order themselves, and to have a contempt action started. The parent in contempt of the order could be incarcerated, but will often agree to make payments, justify the lack of payment, or improve their situation before more serious actions are taken. The method for a person to file a contempt can result in a judgment being issued against the other party, and that judgment can become a debt. The person can put liens on the person’s properties, bank account, or even their payroll account if they get a judgment, just like any other creditor.

It often takes a long time to get those kinds of decisions finalized, and it’s very difficult for some people to last that long during the waiting period. Another problem is that if people are self-employed, it’s more difficult to find out their true income without the use of experts and things of that nature. There are often challenges, but the courts do have definite means of addressing the issue of non-compliance with child support orders.

Does the Paying Parent Have Any Say In How Child Support Is Spent?

The other parent does not generally have a say in how child support is spent. The courts assume that the expense of raising the child is incorporated into the general expense of that parent’s lifestyle, so the parent receiving the child support can use it however they see fit, including paying for the child’s accommodations and supporting the child. Child support goes into the overall income they’re using to care for their family and support themselves and so forth. But there are no stipulations or requirements for using child support for a specific expenditure or reason.

For more information on Child Custody & Support Law in Maryland, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (240) 331-0083 today.

Andrei Blakely

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