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Baltimore Family Law Blog

Understanding different types of child support cases

When parents in Maryland first get involved with the child support system, they can often find the terminology and bureaucracy to be confusing. In addition, they may have unanswered questions about how exactly the system works. For example, some parents pay child support directly to each other while others make payments through a state system. In order to understand the reasons why cases are handled differently, it is important to know that there are four types of child support cases: IV-D, IV-A, IV-E and non-IV-D.

The term "IV" comes from Title IV of the 1975 Social Security Act, which regulates payments from the federal government to the states to fund assistance to needy children and families. In IV-D cases, the custodial parent receives some kind of assistance from the Office of Child Support Enforcement like establishing paternity or enforcing a child support order that had gone unpaid. On the other hand, in IV-A cases, the custodial parent receives public assistance, and the state is looking to recoup those funds from a non-paying, non-custodial parent. IV-E cases involve those in which a child is in foster care or another non-parental placement.

Keep control of your divorce with a cool head

When you're facing divorce, the last thing you want to think about is your spouse draining your accounts or taking all your assets. You bought the majority of the assets you have in your relationship, and it was you who worked hard to make sure your spouse was supported.

During a divorce, it is possible to establish dominance and to take control to make sure you get what you need. In Maryland, the law allows for equitable distribution, which is good for those who invest a lot into their relationships. Instead of being in a state where it's expected that you share marital assets 50-50, you are in one that wants to see a fair division of assets.

Dividing assets in divorce for couples in or near retirement

The details of a divorce can change significantly as couples age. For separations involving people near or in retirement, often referred to as "gray divorces," children are not usually an issue, but financial divisions become more important. It's crucial for couples in Maryland to understand how to properly divide up assets so that both parties will be comfortable once separated.

Dividing retirement accounts like pensions, 401(k)s and IRAs can be complicated, and there are a lot of tax implications to consider. If specific rules aren't followed, one or both parties could suffer from extensive penalties. When thinking about strategies to divide things up, it's important for couples to realize that each person's total wealth is likely to decrease. This is just the reality of splitting up a single pool of assets from one home into two.

How the law treats unmarried fathers

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 40 percent of children in the country are born to parents who are not married. This is an increase from 18.4 percent in 2007. Unmarried fathers in Maryland and other states do have rights to their children, and the first step in obtaining those rights is to establish paternity. Doing so can be as simple as including the father's name on the child's birth certificate.

In some cases, a paternity test may need to be conducted, and a mother's participation in such a proceeding can be compelled by a court. Unmarried men may also be able to get themselves placed on a putative father registry. This will keep a man updated about any proceedings related to a child he believes is his. Once paternity is established, a father may be entitled to custody rights and have a responsibility to provide financially for the child.

Reasons for the rise in prenuptial agreements

People in Maryland may be more likely to get a prenuptial agreement than earlier generations. A survey of the American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers reported an uptick in prenuptial agreements over the past 20 years. More recently, there has been an increase in these types of agreements among the 18-to-34 age group, and there may be a number of reasons for this.

Millennials were entering the workforce during a tough time for the economy, so those who have managed to accumulate assets want to hold onto them. Combined with the fact that they are marrying later than earlier generations, that means millennials could have acquired significant assets by the time they are ready to tie the knot including retirement plans, stock options and a home. They could lose half of that in a divorce, and many are unwilling to take that chance.

Forgiveness is important when it comes to co-parenting

Ideally, a person in a committed relationship wouldn't take steps to hinder their partner's ability to earn money or chase a dream. However, some Maryland residents could do just that without even realizing it. If a couple with children gets divorced, the custodial parent may be tempted to turn the case over to the authorities if back child support is owed. This could have negative consequences for both the noncustodial parent and kid.

The child may sense that money or winning an argument is more important than their happiness. Furthermore, the noncustodial parent may have trouble finding work or getting a loan because of unpaid child support. In many cases, the fact that a parent owes child support will show up on a credit report or negatively impact their credit score. If a parent can't find a job, it could make it harder to keep up with current support payments or otherwise provide for the child.

How to establish paternity as an unmarried father in Maryland

You can be a loving and devoted father even if you never marry the mother of your children. Unfortunately, not having a marriage license can complicate your desire to assert your parental rights.

There are many benefits to establishing yourself as the father of a child. You will benefit because you have the right to seek visitation and shared custody with your child. Your child will benefit because most studies indicate a positive relationship with both parents is developmentally beneficial for children. It can also help in the future because your child will have access to your family medical history.

The focus should be on the child after a divorce

After a divorce, parents should make sure that their sole focus is on raising their children together. As long as both parents are fit to be with the child, they should both have a relationship with a son or daughter. There are a variety of tools that divorced parents in Maryland can use to create a civil relationship with each other.

For instance, making use of counselors can make it possible for parents to resolve conflicts between each other or related to raising their child. These people can help parents to talk openly with each other in an effort to increase and improve communication. Parents should understand that their children detect when the other parent is being marginalized or maligned. In some cases, the child may start to mirror the behavior being exhibited by the parent. This could lead to emotional harm that may last for years.

Considering the financial impact of a divorce

During a divorce in Maryland, former couples may have to determine how their marital property will be divided. Not only can this be an emotional step, but it can also have major impacts on each ex's lifestyle and financial goals. However, those who are proactive when it comes to their future finances may have an easier time moving forward.

Going through a divorce can alter the amount of income a person will have in addition to the expenses they will be responsible for. For example, a divorcee may suddenly be responsible for their own household. This means that the responsibility for rent, utilities, transportation and food will fall entirely on them. The person's income may be reduced on top of that if they are responsible for paying alimony.

The facts about how long it may take to finalize a divorce

It's only natural for anybody in Maryland seeking a divorce to wonder how long the process may take. There is no straightforward answer since many factors will play a role in what's involved with the process. However, there are some basic guidelines that can be used to get a general idea of what to expect. For instance, a couple with no kids and very little assets may have to do nothing more than file the necessary paperwork. This type of divorce could be over as soon as the waiting period is through.

If the end of the marriage is fairly amicable, but there are some issues to resolve, a neutral mediator might be able to help both parties reach a mutually acceptable arrangement. A divorce that's settled in this manner may be completed in a matter of months, or it could take longer if one or both parties doesn't have sufficient motivation.