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How child support is determined

Many single parents who have obtained a divorce and who have been awarded primary custody of their children by a Maryland family court receive child support from the non-custodial parent. In some cases, the amount is determined by negotiations between the parties. In others, the court makes that determination based upon state guidelines.

In Maryland and most other states, the guidelines take into account the income of both parents. Judges will also attempt to ensure that the children in question continue to enjoy the same lifestyle and standard of living that they would have had if their parents had stayed together. This has led to much criticism, both from some non-custodial parents as well as from observers venting on social media, that the amounts awarded are often too high.

Some people criticize the system in other ways as well, noting that the custodial parent is not required to demonstrate that the funds are being used for the children's benefit. That is indeed the case as the recipients are free to spend the money in whatever fashion they choose. Another objection raised by many is that the federal government gives states up to twice the dollar amount of child support that the states are able to collect through enforcement. However, the states are not obligated to use those grants on child-related matters.

While there are some noncustodial parents who refuse to pay child support simply out of spite, others find themselves legitimately unable to meet their monthly payment obligations due to an unforeseen circumstance such as a job loss. As the penalties for non-payment can be severe, parents who find themselves in such a situation may want to have the assistance of a family law attorney in petitioning the court for a modification of the order.

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