CHILD SUPPORT, ENFORCEMENT, CUSTODY, CHILD ABUSE & NEGLECT
FAMILY LAW LAWYER MARYLAND
HOW IS CHILD SUPPORT DETERMINED
Child support is a court-ordered payment requiring the noncustodial parent to pay child support to the custodial parent. Typically for ordinary expenses of food, shelter, clothing, education and medication needs for the children only. In 1990, Maryland passed a law requiring the courts to use child support guidelines in all child support cases. The guidelines provide a formula to calculate your child support obligation.
The Maryland’s Child Support Calculator incorporates the following:
- Each parent’s actual monthly income. If a parent is not working and has no other form of income, the court can still assign income if it finds that the parent has the ability to work. Each parent’s actual or assigned income can sometimes be reduced by the parent’s other child support or alimony obligations or the parent’s costs of providing health insurance for a child.
- Both parents’ incomes or potential incomes are added together. This combined number is used to determine from the guidelines a basic child support obligation for the combined income.
- The non-custodial parent is then obligated to pay a percentage share of the combined income to the custodial parent. If the parents share custody, the amount of the child support obligation may be less.
- A court can also order that the non-custodial parent pay an additional amount for certain medical, school, transportation and day care expenses and for health insurance for a child.
The criteria above is a partial guideline the court may utilize when determining child support obligations.
For example, another factor the court may consider is overnight stays with the noncustodial parent. If you need assistance calculating child support obligations or simply need help with the process, call our office today. Family law lawyer Charles County at The Burton Firm will help you determine child support obligations, answer any questions you may have, and ensure that you have a clear understanding of the child support determination process. The initial consultation is free. Getting the right and necessary help is critical, call our office today and speak to an experienced family law attorney.
FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY MARYLAND
CHILD SUPPORT FAQ’S
How long will it take for me to get my first child support check?
Estimated time⎯one to two months after the judge signs the order. This is how it works:
after your hearing, the orders are forwarded to the judge for signature, unless exceptions are filed. After the orders are signed, an Earnings Withholding Order (EWO) may be sent by certified mail to the employer. Once the employer receives the EWO, they must begin withholding from the next paycheck. The parent ordered to pay child support is responsible for payment from the date the court determines payments are to begin, regardless of whether an EWO has been issued.
If the other parent does not pay the child support owed, do I have to let him or her visit the children? OR, If I do not see my kids—do I still have to pay support?
Child support and visitation are not related to each other. If a parent does not pay child support the other parent must continue to follow any visitation order issued by the court.
We have joint custody of the children. Why do I have to pay child support?
It is important that both parents contribute to the raising of their children, even in joint custody cases. The amount of child support charged to each parent depends upon the amount of time each parent spends with the child, as well as each parent’s income and the expense of raising the child.
Download brochure from the Maryland State Court Website: http://www.courts.state.md.us/family/publications/cs1.pdf
FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY IN MARYLAND
CHILD SUPPORT ENFORCEMENT
If you are supposed to be receiving child support payments on behalf of a child or children, and the noncustodial parent is not making timely or complete child support payments, there are a number of steps you can take to enforce court-ordered child support.
In the State of Maryland, the Department of Human Resources, Child Support Enforcement Program (CSEP) was established to help custodial parents obtain child support and enforce child support payments.
The CSEP offers a variety of services that either parent may apply for.
If you are not receiving court-ordered child support payments, it is recommended that you contact your local CSEP office because they provide invaluable resources.
Some of the services provided are:
- Locating the non-custodial parent
- Establishing legal paternity
- Obtaining a court order for child support and health insurance
- Collecting child support payments
- Enforcing the court order
- Reviewing and modifying the court ordered child support amount
The CSEP also helps custodial parents having trouble receiving court-ordered child support payments from the noncustodial parent. They federal government allows the CSEP to utilize a number of strategies to enforce child support payments. Some of the tactics the CSEP may employ to help you receive complete and regular payments are:
- Withhold money from unemployment benefits and wages of the noncustodial parent;
- Intercept state and federal tax refunds;
- Report the delinquent payer to the credit bureau;
- Report parent owing past due payments to the Motor Vehicle Administration for driver’s license suspension;
- Intercept lottery winnings;
- Bring Contempt of Court actions against delinquent parents; and
- Refer cases for Federal prosecution when non-custodial parents skip state to avoid paying child support.
There are several other options that exist to help you obtain the necessary resources for your child or children. A Charles County family law attorney Aubrey Burton Jr., can also help enforce your court-ordered child support payments. There are several measures that our team will take to get your former spouse to fulfill his or her obligation. Call our office today and get your questions answered. The initial consultation is free.
FAMILY LAW LAWYER IN MARYLAND
CHILD CUSTODY MODIFICATION
In the area of child modification, laws differ from state to state. In Maryland, the law does not favor either the mother or father.
The law looks at the “best interest” of the child(ren) standard when deciding on child custody and visitation. Once custody of the child(ren) has been decided upon, it is fairly difficult to change.
A Complaint to Modify Custody can be brought at any time.
In order for the child modification to be successful, the following criteria must be satisfied. First, there has been a material change in circumstances; and second, the modification is in the best interest of the child.
This criteria is often difficult to satisfy, and for this reason, the custody modification process is not as simple as it may seem. For example, if there has been a change in the child’s academic achievement and the two homes are thought to be equal, then custody will stay as it is.
The burden to satisfy the material change and best interest of the child(ren) criteria is on the petitioning party because it is he or she seeking the alteration. The Maryland Court’s custody modification principle is if the system works and is intact, it should not be modified because it may cause instability in the child’s(rens) environment.
Some factors that may be considered material change are as follows:
- A substantial increase in the child’s age;
- A dramatic change to one of parent’s income level;
- One parent relocating to another state;
- A showing that the current living arrangement puts the child at risk of physical or emotional harm;
- The custodial parent refusing visitation by the non-custodial parent.
If you are seeking custody modification, it is crucial you at least speak with an experienced family law attorney about your case. The Burton Firm can help you effectively understand the legalities and possible outcome of your case. Call our office today and take advantage of our free consultation policy. You will have the opportunity to speak with an experienced family law attorney that will help you with your case. We have the experience of dealing with the complicated court system and can work to protect your relationship with your child. We understand that this is a difficult time for our clients, so we work hard to get our clients results they need.
MARYLAND FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY
CHILD ABUSE & NEGLECT
According to Maryland law, child abuse is any type of physical or mental injury that harms the child or puts the child in a substantial risk of being harmed. Mental injury is defined as the observable, identifiable and substantial impairment of a child’s mental or psychological ability to function. Sexual abuse, whether physical injuries were sustained or not is also considered as child abuse.
Sexual abuse is defined as any act that involves sexual molestation or exploitation of a child and it includes a wide array of sexual conduct including things like exposure, sexual advances, and engaging in the pornographic display of a child. Child neglect, although different from abuse, is still a serious concern and is defined as the failure of giving proper care and attention to a child, including leaving the child unattended under circumstances where the child’s health, including mental health, is harmed or placed at a risk of harm.
There are many different types of indicators of a child being abused or neglected
Some physical indicators include: Unexplained bruises or a pattern of bruises, cuts and burns, rope marks, fractured or broken bones, welts, abrasions, bite marks or puncture wounds, chipped teeth, etc. Some indicators of sexual abuse include: difficulty or painful walking, injury or reported pain or itching in the genital area, sexually suggestive behavior, expressions of sexual knowledge or behavior for an inappropriate age, pregnancy under 12 yrs of age, or extreme and unusual changes in personality, behavior and/or emotions.
Neglect indicators include dirty and unkempt appearance, untreated serious medical problems, obvious malnourishment, listlessness, fatigue, inadequate clothing for weather and abandonment. If a child experiences any of the above indicators a local department of social services may remove the child from his or her home. If so, the department will file a petition in what’s known as Child in Need of Assistance (CINA) cases. From here the court will decide how to proceed and what the next steps should be for the child/parent relationship.
MARYLAND FAMILY LAW LAWYER
What should I do if I suspect a child being abused or neglected?
Maryland law requires educators, health practitioners, police officers and human service workers to report suspected child abuse or neglect. All other citizens are encouraged to report suspected abuse or neglect.
How old does my child have to be before I can allow him or her to be home alone?
A child must be at least 8 years of age be left alone in a house or car and at least 13 years old to baby-sit another child. Although keep in mind, it is up to the parent to determine the maturity level of the 8 year old.
Are all suspected perpetrators subject to the Maryland child abuse and neglect laws?
No, the law only applies to the parent, the person who has permanent or temporary care or custody of the child, or a household or a family member.
Is physical discipline considered child abuse?
For the most part, yes. In some families and cultures, physical discipline (spanking, hitting or whipping) is a common practice in managing the behavior of children. However, if it leaves an injury, it is considered child abuse. Child Protective Services will determine whether the punishment was abusive considering the entire circumstance, including the severity of the injury and nature of the punishment.
What if a child was sexually abused by another sibling?
Under Maryland law, sexual abuse must be reported if it “involves sexual molestation or exploitation of a child” by any household or family member. Because the two children are household members, it needs to be reported. The CPS caseworker will then make a determination of whether it should be investigated.
How do I distinguish between child sexual abuse and sexual assault?
Much of what is reported as child sexual abuse also constitute as a sexual assault, incest or rape. However, not every sexual assault on a child is reported as child sexual abuse. Unless a sexual act was perpetrated by a parent, household or family member, or other person caring for it is not considered to be “child sexual abuse,” even if it is unwelcome or nonconsensual touching.