Things you need to know about recent updates to Maryland child support statutes

If you are residing in Maryland and have a child where child support may be ordered by the Court these are the latest updates that you need to know. 
In the 2020 legislative session, the Maryland General Assembly proposed a series of changes – including changes to the Maryland child support statute – These changes became effective on July 1, 2022. 
 The 3 significant changes to the Maryland Child Support statute are as follows: 
 Increased Income Threshold, 
 Defining Voluntary Impoverishment 
 Authority of the court to decline to order child support. 

Increased Income Threshold

The threshold application of the guidelines has increased. Currently, the Courts are required to apply the result of the Maryland Child Support Guidelines calculator in all cases in which the combined adjusted actual income of the family is $15,000 per month (or $180,000 per year) or less, with the Court having discretion in cases where a family earns more than $180,000 per year. After July 1, those numbers will double to $30,000 per month (or $360,000 per year). This provides a more prompt and accurate number for families earning between $180,000 and $360,000 per year. For families over the new threshold, the Court will have discretion in determining the level of child support. 

Defining Voluntary Impoverishment

Voluntary impoverishment in part means making the choice to work a job paying less than that person’s earning potential – this has been in Maryland case law, but it has never been defined in the Maryland statute until now. 

With the update, voluntary impoverishment is now defined to mean that “a parent has made the free and conscious choice, not compelled by factors beyond the parent’s control, to render the parent without adequate resources.” 

Additionally, the update provides that if there is an allegation about voluntary impoverishment in the dispute, the court must make a finding about whether the parent in question is voluntary impoverished, and in the event the parent is found to be voluntarily impoverished, the Court is required to consider a list of factors in determining the amount of potential income (if any) to that parent.

Declining to Order Child Support 

The court will now have the authority to decline to order child support in extremely specific and limited situations. One example, when the court may decline to establish child support is when the child for whom support is requested lives with the parent from whom support is demanded and that parent is contributing to the child’s expenses.

For cases filed after July 1, 2022, the new child support guidelines will be used to establish initial child support orders. It may also establish the level of child support in cases involving modifications of existing child support orders.