Child Custody Home

In 1990, Maryland instituted guidelines for child support.  Child support is calculated according to a formula that primarily uses the incomes of the parents, and costs related to the children.  Us of the child support guidelines is mandatory.  Occasionally, a Maryland court may deviate from the recommended amount however; there is a rebuttable presumption that the amount of child support, resulting from these guidelines should be the correct amount of support.  While this is estimation, it is best to consult with an attorney to receive further assistance. 

The courts obtains jurisdiction over the issue of child support when the two parents decide to separate.  The parents can agree to an amount, which of course will save the financial and emotional stress of taking the case before a judge or master.  However, if neither party can agree on an amount then the case will go before a judge or master and based upon testimony of both parents, the judge will make a decision.  Once an award of child support is made only the court has the authority to change the amount.  The amount is not set in stone and if circumstances change either party may request a change in order.  The support will usually end when the child reached the majority age (18 in Maryland).



    In the state of Maryland, there are two types of custody, legal custody and residential custody, which is also known as physical custody. Custody and visitation are never considered final. As situations, change custody can be challenged. Maryland does not favor a mother or father as the parent having custody. The law takes into consideration each case

    Sole Custody
    Sole Custody is when both legal and physical custody is awarded to one parent. The child resides with only one parent and has one primary residence. A parent with legal custody has the right to make long-range plans and decisions, such as schooling, discipline, non-emergency medical care, religious upbringing and other significant decisions in the child’s life and for their welfare. Physical custody is when the child resides primarily with one parent and that parent has the right to make decisions as to the child’s day-to-day needs.

    Joint Custody
    There are three types of Joint Custody, Joint Legal, Shared Physical and Combination.

    • Joint Legal - Joint Legal is where the child has only one primary residence, yet both parents share in the care and control of the decisions concerning the child.

    • Shared Physical - Shared physical custody is when the child has two residences. They spend at least 35% of their time with the other parent.

    • Combination - You may also make you own joint custody agreement between you and your spouse that will work for both you and the children. This can be any combination of shared physical and joint legal custody.


    The court will also look at other factors including the parents willingness to share custody, the child’s relationship with the parents, child’s preference, fitness of the parents, financial status, benefit to parents, age and number of children, stability of home life and stability in the child’s school and social life, employment hours and length away from home. The court will also make sure that the child is not used for concessions on other points.

    Maryland uses the “best interest” test in determining physical custody. The Court will determine how a child’s interest will be best served. The best interest of the child is obviously if both parents agree, however, this is not always the case and this is when you will need to consult with a legal expert. After an award of custody is issued by the Court, custody can only be changed upon proof that there has been a change in circumstances that warrant a modification of custody. It is important that you do all you can do to ensure that you agree with any award of custody affecting your rights to your child.


    Alimony is not to be confused with child support. Alimony is a court-ordered payment from one former spouse to the other, for the purpose of supporting the recipient spouse. Most frequently, the period during which alimony will be paid is limited until the recipient spouse is self-supporting. Alimony is most often taxable income to the recipient spouse and tax deductible for the payer. Child support is paid by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent for children 18 and under, or in high school and less than 19 years of age. The child support payment is intended to give the children a lifestyle equal to what it would have been if their parents lived together. Child support is not taxable income to the person receiving the payment. Child support is considered a right belonging to the child, and the custodial parent does not have the right to allow the other parent to not contribute to the support of the child. Debts arising from unpaid child support and unpaid alimony can not be discharged in bankruptcy. Both obligations are considered “a duty”, whereas a debt is a legal obligation.


    Child support is a calculation that first determines the amount of support based on the combined incomes of the parents, and then allocates the child support obligation in proportion to the income. For example, if mother earns $2000 a month and father earns $3000 a month, then the combined incomes of the parents would be $5000. The total monthly child support obligation for one child would be $670. If father was the non-custodial parent, then he would have to pay an amount of support in proportion to his income as compared to the combined income. Father earns 60% of the total income. Therefore, he would have to pay 60% of $670, or $402, each month. In addition, certain costs are shared by the parents. The costs are also shared in proportion to the earned incomes. Examples of costs that are shared by the parties pursuant to the guidelines are daycare, unreimbursed medical expenses, orthodontia expenses and health insurance. There is little reason to litigate the child support obligation since the guidelines calculation is relatively simple. If you would like assistance in calculating child support, please call for a free 15 minute telephone consultation.

    While the parents may agree to an amount of support between the two of them, it is incumbent upon the judge to make sure the amount is fair. The award should not be less than the guideline amount unless the judge is convinced that the award is in the best interest of the child. The court believes that the child is entitled to receive the same proportion of parental income and enjoy the same standard of living that the child would have experienced if the parents had not separated.

    Divorce is a highly emotional and financial stress on both parents. It is best to contact a legal expert experienced in family law to assist you in this matter to make sure your child receives the best care and financial support.