In Maryland child support cases, both parents are presumed to be the natural custodians of their children, unless otherwise stated. As such, both parents, in addition to aunts, uncles, grandparents, court-appointed guardians and any other established natural custodian, qualify for child support services. While there are many different benefits of child support services utilized by guardians, the most common are establishing paternity, establishing a court order for a child or their medical support and collecting current or past due support payments. Here, the family law attorneys at Rodier Family Law explain how the custodian of a minor child may go about receiving child support.
Establishing Paternity for a Child
Before child support can be ordered by either or both parents, parentage (the identity of the child’s biological parents) must be established. Establishing parentage is important because it allows for the child to benefit from the either or both parents in a number of different ways, including financially. If the father acknowledges paternity, a court trial may not be necessary; however, if paternity is not willingly acknowledged, a genetic testing appointment may be ordered by the court. In Maryland, if a child is born to married parents, the husband is presumed to be the father of the child unless another individual can establish paternity.
Filing for Child Support
Custodians seeking child support must first complete an application and then pay an application fee of $15—note that a separate application, as well as separate fee, will be necessary for each case. In the instance that a custodian is already receiving Temporary Cash Assistance (TCA) or Medical Assistance to care for the child, then there is no charge for the associated child support services. To have an application mailed to you, contact the Child Support Administration at 800-332-6347.
Processing a Child Support Case
A child support order can often be established in 90-180 days. However, if a parent lives out-of-state, has been incarcerated or fails to appear for a hearing, this may cause the order to be delayed. If both parents are cooperative and communicative with the court, orders can be established in a timely manner. If the custodian does not know where the other parent currently resides, the court will conduct a search using local, state and federal resources. If this is the case, custodians should provide the court with as much information as possible regarding the parent’s last known address, telephone number, employer information and any other relevant details to facilitate this search.
The Maryland Child Support Administration has a toll-free line (1-800-332-6347) to help answer all general child support questions. This includes assistance with payment, changes of address or employment, requests for enforcement of an order, along with other questions associated with processing or upholding child support cases.
Determining the Level of Child Support
Arguably the most common factor regarding child support services involves the level of financial support that could be provided to the custodian. The court will determine the level of child support to be paid to the custodian based on several factors:
- Income of both parents
- Number of children
- Cost of health insurance for the children
- Current alimony payments
- Cost of daycare
- Current child support being paid for other children
- Any extraordinary medical or care costs for the children.
The court may also award the custodian child support retroactively, meaning that child support will have to be paid from an earlier date—typically the date when the child was brought into the care of the custodian.
Custodians also have the right to request a review for modification of child support if there has been a change in circumstances since the order was originally entered, or if it has been three years or more since the order was entered or last reviewed for modification. Special circumstances that may provide grounds for an increase or decrease in child support includes: significant changes in income, changes in work-related day care cost, changes in health care costs, a change in custody or a change in the financial needs of the child.
Discussing Child Support with a Family Law Attorney
Child support can be a complicated matter, especially if parentage is uncertain or contested. Your child deserves the support of both parents, both from a financial and emotional perspective. The family law attorneys at Rodier Family Law are available to answer any questions or concerns you have regarding child support and have years of experience helping child custodians receive the support they require and deserve. To get started, contact us today for your consultation.