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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.

The majority of child support cases handled during a divorce are non-IV-D cases. Here, the parents can make arrangements privately for their child support payments without the involvement of the state. However, a non-IV-D case could become an IV-D case if the non-custodial parent fails to pay his or her court-ordered child support.

Child support amounts are set based on the non-custodial parent's income and family status. When these things change, the current support amount may seem overwhelming. A family law attorney may work with a non-custodial parent to file for a child support modification after a downturn in income that will enable the parent to stay current on their obligations without facing financial disaster.

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