How Is Child Support Determined?
Interviewer: How is child support determined?
Anitha Johnson: There are several factors, such as income that are taken into consideration. The main factors are the income of both parties and the amount of time spent with the child. The amount of time would be whether the custodial parent who’s seeking support, if they’re the sole custodian and the other party has just visitation and sees the child minimally. In that case, the amount of child support is going to be higher. It’s going to be calculated from a sole custody guideline.
The Income and Time Spent with the Child Are Factors in Determining Child Support
If the non-custodial parent has the child at least 35% of the time then the child support will be calculated on a shared custody guideline. This means that the amount of child support would be significantly lower. If both parties have the child equally, which is 50/50, then in most cases child support would not be awarded at all.
Common Misconceptions: Will I Be Able to See My Child?
Interviewer: What are some misconceptions that people have about child support?
Anitha Johnson: I think the first misconception about child support is that if the person is not paying child support they can’t see their child. Even if the father is a deadbeat father as far as paying child support, the custodial parent cannot refuse the other party from receiving access or visitation of their child.
In Maryland, Child Support Is Paid until Age 18 or 19; in DC, until Age 21
Child support is calculated by a computer program, sort of by a formula. A lot of clients don’t know there’s a formula that calculates child support. In Maryland child support is up until age 18 or 19 if the person is still in high school and up until 21 in the District of Columbia.
Interviewer: That was the question I was going to ask. How long does a parent have to pay for child support?
Anitha Johnson: Child support continues in Maryland up until the age of 18 or when the person graduates high school. So at 19 if the person still hasn’t graduated from high school, but 19 is the highest. In DC it’s up until 21.
Interviewer: How is the amount determined if there are several children involved?
Anitha Johnson: It’s all done by computer. When child support is determined, the amount of child support will be determined for each child.
Can the Amount of Child Support Be Modified to Address a Change of Circumstance?
Interviewer: Can child support amounts be modified over the years?
Anitha Johnson: Yes, if there is a change in circumstances. The change could be any circumstance that really affects the child support calculation, such as income changes, costs up such as daycare costs; maybe someone’s become unemployed.
Medical Needs and Daycare Expenses Also Factor into the Amount of Child Support
Interviewer: Do factors such as medical needs or daycare ever come into play when it comes to figuring out the amount?
Anitha Johnson: Yes, work-related childcare, work-related childcare expenses. If the daycare is for somebody who’s working, then that child support can be considered.
At What Point in the Divorce Process Is Child Support Determined?
Interviewer: During the divorce process, when you meet with a client, at what point does child support get determined? Is it during the beginning of the divorce process or towards the end?
There Is a Temporary Hearing to Address Child Support Prior to the Divorce and Custody Being Finalized
Anitha Johnson: There’s a temporary hearing where child support determined before the final divorce decree is issued. This is because the final divorce or the final custody hearing could take a long time. Because child support is for the child, it’s to assist the custodial parent while the action is pending.