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Considerations for judges in calculating spousal, child support

After a divorce, some people in Maryland might be required to pay child and spousal support. Each state has its own system for calculating these, but courts also have a certain amount of discretion in determining what a person will pay. They may look beyond each person's income.

Other sources of money may be considered along with a person's salary. This could include signing bonuses, partnership distributions and deferred compensation. If the income reported on tax returns does not appear sufficient to support the family's lifestyle, the court may look at what other means of support were available. For example, if a person has been receiving a significant amount of money from family, that may also be taken into account. The court may also make an effort to ensure that children are able to have a similar lifestyle after the divorce.

Courts may also consider whether a person has the potential to earn more but is not. This could include examining the person's past salary history and present qualification. The court also averages earnings over several years, so becoming deliberately underemployed or attempting to manipulate income in other ways is unlikely to be effective. However, people might consider how to time the divorce in terms of their income. Support can also be made modifiable in case one spouse has a significant change in income.

People who need to get a modification of support because of job loss or for some other change in circumstances may not want to procrastinate. Getting a child custody modification can take time, and if it is granted, it is not retroactive, so the person would still owe for any delinquent payments. A parent who is having trouble getting the other parent to make support payments may be able to get assistance from the office of child support enforcement.

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