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Help, I Can’t Afford Child Support Payments

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In Maryland, a court can order spouses to pay child support and alimony, and it can order a party to divide personal property and assets. While giving up money and property is tough, child support can be one of the hardest obligations to maintain. This is not always because the person doesn’t care or wishes to deprive his or her children. Often, it’s a simple matter of math. A skilled Maryland support modification attorney can help.

How is Child Support Determined? 

Under Maryland law, a person cannot agree with a spouse in order to avoid a court-ordered obligation to pay child support. Rather, there is a worksheet provided by the State of Maryland that allows you to input your own unique factors in order to estimate the amount the court will order you to pay. The problem is, it’s not easy. A lot of people forget valuable exclusions and deductions. For instance, the court can take into consideration other support you may be paying or other child support obligations to children by a different partner.

Is there a Minimum Amount a Court Requires? 

Yes. Depending on your income, the court does have a minimum amount that will be assessed, regardless of whether you are working or not. Of course, it will still depend on how many children you have and what other factors there are, such as other support obligations.

Can I Discharge Child Support in Bankruptcy? 

No. Child support is considered a domestic support obligation under federal bankruptcy law, as is alimony. If the court order defines a payment obligation as being intended to support a former spouse, child, or other member of your household, then you may not discharge it through bankruptcy.

Property division (strictly for the purpose of dividing assets – not support) can, however, be discharged in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. This type of bankruptcy allows you to spread out payments on debts over a 3 to 5 year period. If you complete the program, you receive a discharge. You cannot do this with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

What Happens If I Can’t Pay Child Support? 

You’ve probably heard stories about people making $3,000 per month being forced to pay 50-60% of their discretionary income to an ex-spouse as child support. While this definitely can happen, it does not always need to. If you have a change in circumstances since the court ordered the child support, you could be entitled to have the court re-hear your case to modify the amount you must pay.

Good reasons to seek modification are:

  • You lost a job or faced some other major financial setback
  • You had to file for bankruptcy
  • You became ill or disabled
  • You suffered a serious injury that impacted your earnings
  • You survived a natural disaster or were displaced
  • You recently retired

Bad reasons to seek modification are:

  • You decided to change careers and took a lower paying job
  • You feel that your ex is doing well enough without the extra help
  • Your ex is dating again and you believe the new partner is helping

Maryland Post-Decree Modification Assistance 

To discuss your situation and find out if support modification may be an option for you, call toll-free (800) 277-8151 to reach the Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, P.A. Don’t try to seek a modification without skilled legal representation. There are just too many potential pitfalls. You may be surprised how much you could save on child support once an experienced attorney is involved.

Resource:

dhr.state.md.us/CSOCGuide/App/selectWorksheet.do

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