CHILD SUPPORT VITAL FOR THOUSANDS OF MARYLAND FAMILIES

Every second Sunday in May we celebrate Mother's Day, a day in which we honor the women that brought us into the world, made sacrifices to ensure that we grew up healthy and happy and loved us unconditionally. More moms these days hold two titles: mother and bread winner.

What is the reality for working women in Maryland? A study conducted by the personal-finance site WalletHub.com gathered data to determine the best and the worst states for working moms; Maryland ranked twelfth best overall.

Women in Maryland may work in a jurisdiction with the fourth smallest gender pay gap and fifth best locale for professional opportunities, but they are working hard for those benefits. The study found that Maryland ranked last out of all states (and the District of Columbia) for work-life balance of working moms. A longer average commute time, longer workdays and a lower parental leave policy score all contributed to this ranking.

Even though the child care system in Maryland was ranked third in the nation, the truth is that single moms — and dads too — are faced with the added hurdle of having to go it alone. Many single parents rely on child support payments to make ends meet. Although only one parent might be considered the custodial parent, it is important to remember that both have a legal obligation to financially provide for their children.

Maryland's child support guidelines

The state's child support guidelines are set forth in Section 12-204 of the Annotated Code of Maryland. Several factors are considered in this determination. These include (but are not limited to):

  • Gross income — The actual monthly income for both parents is considered. "Actual income" takes into account not only salary, but associated bonuses or other sources of income, like alimony and workers' compensation benefits. It excludes public assistance benefits such as Supplemental Security Income. Actual income is adjusted by any pre-existing child support obligations to determine "gross income."
  • Child care expenses — Child care expenses incurred while the custodial parent works are considered when setting a child support amount. In situations where actual family expense documentation is unavailable, the court can set a comparable amount or consider what a parent's chosen care provider would charge.
  • Health insurance and extraordinary medical expenses — The premiums paid by a parent for health insurance for the benefit of the child are considered. In cases in which a child may have extraordinary costs associated with his or her care, these may also be considered.

Are you a parent considering divorce?

One look at the Maryland statute covering the calculation of child support can make a parent's head spin. With enough on their plate already, parents do not want to risk leaving money on the table that could be used for the benefit of their child. Parents considering filing for divorce should consult a family law attorney who understands the complex laws applicable to child support and the unique needs of each family.