When lawyers and judges in Frederick, Maryland endeavor to determine an appropriate amount of child support, they employ the Maryland Child Support Guidelines. Application of these Maryland Child Support Guidelines carries “a rebuttable presumption of correctness.” In other words, that means the guidelines set forth in the Maryland Code must be used to determine the appropriate amount of child support except in very, very, few circumstances.
Frederick Maryland divorce and custody lawyers will universally tell you that child support between divorced or separated parents is “computed” using the Maryland Child Support Guidelines. Those guidelines are set forth in the Maryland Annotated Code, Family Law Article Sections 12-101 through 12-204. By calling it a “calculation” the implication for laypersons is that child support is just: plug and play. It is not. The child support guidelines merely describe and define a formula.
Like any other formula, what you plug in determines what conclusion comes out. Just like taxes, reasonable minds may disagree upon what are “qualified” versus “unqualified” figures and the amounts thereof. Also like taxes, some people strain the boundaries of fairness and abuse the system.
Child support is calculated on a computer generated or hand written “worksheet.” The top ⅓ of the worksheet calculates the Basic Child Support Obligation and then the balance of the boxes on the ledger are used to determine the Total Child Support Obligation. Hence “above the line” factors determine the Basic Child Support Obligation and “below the line” factors determine the final or Total Child Support Obligation.
The primary Basic Child Support Obligation input factors are: (1) incomes for each parent, (2) number of children, and (3) the number of respective overnights with each parent. As mentioned above, these are referred to as “above the line” factors. They are known as “above the line factors” because they are the factors which determine a parent’s “Basic Child Support Obligation.”
After that Basic Child Support Obligation is determined, along with each parent’s proportion of the combined incomes, the “below the line” factors come into play. Those include: (1) work related child(ren) care, (2) health insurance for the child(ren), (3) extraordinary medical expenses of the child(ren), and (4) additional qualified expenses. When the Basic Child Support Obligation is added to the below the line expenses that figure constitutes the Total Child Support Obligation.
Timothy Conlon, Esquire for The Custody Place.
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