Changes to Maryland Child Support Laws in 2020
Child Support and Shared Physical Custody
Md. Code, Family Law § 12-201
Chances are if you and your child’s other parent are no longer together, one parent is paying (or will be paying) child support to the other. The amount of that child support depends on several factors, but primarily the incomes of both parties and how many overnight stays the children have with each parent. The formula that calculates payments is found in Maryland’s child support guidelines, which apply when parents’ combined incomes is $15,000 per month or less. During the 2020 legislative session, the guideline calculations were revised for parents with certain custody arrangements, with the new law going into effect October 1, 2020.
Importantly, the definition of shared physical custody has been changed. Under the revised guidelines, “‘Shared physical custody‘ means that each parent keeps the child or children overnight for more than 25% of the year and that both parents contribute to the expenses of the child or children in addition to the payment of child support.” Previously, the threshold for applying shared physical custody calculations under the guidelines had been more than 35% of the year (or more than 128 nights). Therefore, if both parents keep the child(ren) overnight for more than 25% of the year (at least 92 overnights), shared physical custody guideline calculations will apply under the revised law.
Further, a new “shared physical custody adjustment” will apply to parents who keep their child(ren) overnight for more than 25% of the year (at least 92 overnights), but less than 30% (not more than 109 overnights), of the year. The shared physical custody adjustment is a mathematical calculation that incrementally adjusts the basic child support obligation (i.e. the base amount due for child support based on the parents’ incomes) when shared custody arrangements fall in this particular range.
The combined effect of these changes is that child support calculations under the Maryland guidelines will be sloped more gradually, rather than going off the so-called “cliff” at the previous threshold of 128 days.
Although it does not alter current child support agreements and existing decisions, the revised statute applies to cases filed on or after October 1, 2020, and may be used in a future modification of child support action.
Child Support and Incarceration
Md. Code, Family Law § 12-104.1
Another change to the child support law involves when the child support payor (or “obligor”) is incarcerated. This legislative change was prompted by changes in federal law.
Previously, to qualify for suspension of payments and arrears, an obligor had to be sentenced to 18 consecutive months or more of imprisonment. It has been substantially lowered to a term of imprisonment of 180 consecutive calendar days or more.
The new law now states;
“(b) A child support payment is not past due and arrearages may not accrue during any period when the obligor is incarcerated, and continuing for 60 days after the obligor’s release from confinement, if:
(1) the obligor was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 180 CONSECUTIVE CALENDAR DAYS or more;
(2) the obligor is not on work release and has insufficient resources with which to make payment; and
(3) the obligor did not commit the crime with the intent of being incarcerated or otherwise becoming impoverished.”
This law also takes effect on October 1, 2020.
Consulting an Experienced Attorney
For years, Bethany Shechtel, Esquire has guided clients through child support and child custody issues. If you need help calculating child support payments, or assessing whether they can be modified, contact BGS Law, LLC today.
- 2020 Regular Session – House Bill 269 Chapter: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/2020RS/Chapters_noln/CH_142_hb0269t.pdf
- Maryland General Assembly, Legislation HB-0269: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/mgawebsite/Legislation/Details/HB0269?ys=2020RS
- 2020 Regular Session – Senate Bill 1006: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/2020RS/Chapters_noln/CH_122_sb1006e.pdf