All parents have a legal and moral obligation to support their children. If those parents live together, the law assumes that they share this burden. However, there are many scenarios where the parents of children no longer share the same home or have never done so.
When this is the case, the law requires parents who do not have primary physical custody over a child to provide support payments. Even if a parent is unemployed, disabled, or has major health problems, they must provide a minimal amount of support to care for their child.
A Frederick child support lawyer could help parents to work toward a fair resolution in child support hearings. An experienced family law attorney can include working to establish a fair order, moving to modify an existing order, and even to bring complaints that a paying parent has failed to provide proper support.
The Legal Basis for Child Support
Raising children is always a collaborative effort. Whenever the parents of a child experience a split, whether through a divorce or not, they can ask a court to make a ruling concerning the future care and custody of their shared children. A court will often make a decision concerning the physical custody of the child and issue a child support order at the same time.
Courts use a specific mathematical formula to determine how much child support is appropriate. Under Md. Code, Family Law §12-202, the court will evaluate many factors in making this determination including each parent’s income, the ability of each parent to pay, and any special needs that the child may have. A Frederick child support attorney could help parents to evaluate the needs of their children and to help to make your case.
Working to Ensure Fair Payments in the Future
The obligation to provide child support carries full legal weight. A failure to do so can result in a court holding a parent in civil or criminal contempt. Courts can hold hearings in case of alleged non-payment where a guilty finding can result in the direct garnishment of wages, the suspension of a driver’s license, or even a jail sentence.
A dedicated legal representative could help parents who wish to file complaints for non-payment. They could also help parents who are facing accusations of non-payment to promote defenses as to why they have not made provided the required support.
Of course, it is always best to avoid these problematic hearings if possible. The law allows parents to ask the court to modify existing child support orders. According to Md. Code, Family Law §12-104, either parent may file a petition asking for a change in a child support order if a material change in circumstances has resulted since the last court order.
Examples of these changes in circumstances include:
- The loss of a job
- A promotion at work
- A parent suffering a disability that prevents them from working
- The child getting a job to support their own needs
A skilled child support lawyer in Frederick could provide help during any motion to modify an existing child support order.
Let a Frederick Child Support Attorney Assist You
Issues regarding child support can often be some of the most contentious sessions in Frederick family court. All parents must provide support for their child, and in the case of a non-custodial parent, this takes the form of cash payments. Courts have the authority to order any parent to provide these payments, even if they do not work. A failure to provide payment can bring serious legal consequences.
A Frederick child support lawyer can help you understand how your financial circumstances will affect child support. For help with filing to modify existing orders and pressing for orders of contempt in case of non-payment, get in touch with qualified legal counsel today to make an appointment.