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When and How Can a Child Support Agreement Be Modified in Maryland?

If a parent who pays child support (payor) in Maryland experiences a material change in circumstances and can no longer meet their child support obligations, they can petition the court for a modification of the child support order. Likewise, the parent who receives child support (the payee) can also request a change to the support order.

To accomplish this, the payor or payee must submit a written motion to the appropriate circuit court. You can find the Petition to Modify Child Support here. The court can only modify the child support order if a material change has occurred. The parent seeking a modification of the support order must be able to demonstrate that their financial or personal circumstances have changed since the time when the current order was established.

Reasons for Modifying Child Support

You won’t be able to modify a child support order unless you have what the court considers to be a valid reason to do so. According to Maryland Code, Family Law (§ 12-202), if you pay child support, you may qualify for a modification if you meet or have stopped meeting the following eligibility requirements:

  • You currently reside with your child and have been paying child support
  • You are unemployed and cannot make child support payments, and:
  • You are serving out a prison sentence or are expected to be imprisoned for the duration of the period you would be obligated to pay child support
  • You are institutionalized in a mental health care facility and will remain in the institution for the duration of the period you would be obligated to pay child support
  • You have been diagnosed with a total disability that is permanent in nature, you cannot work, and your only source of income is SSD (Social Security Disability) or SSI (Supplemental Security Income), or
  • You cannot work and earn an income because you are hospitalized, in a rehabilitation facility, or you are criminally detained

If you are the payor, you could also be eligible to modify a child support arrangement if your income significantly changed. For example, if your income shrank by at least 25 percent, you might be able to get your child support payments decreased. If you are the payee and you unexpectedly need the payor to contribute more because, for instance, your child became disabled, you could petition to increase the support amount.

As time goes on, your child’s needs will also change. For example, if they start participating in work-related child care, the support amount might need to be increased to help cover those costs. Also, new expenses for private school or a therapist might constitute a material change in circumstances.

If the payee gets a higher-paying job, the payor could use the payee’s income as a reason to request a modification of the support order. They could argue that it isn’t fair if the payee continues to receive the same amount, given the fact that the payor now has more wealth with which to support the child.

How to Modify a Child Support Arrangement in Maryland

To request a modification to your child support order, you have two options. First, you can file a motion to change the support order with the circuit court that established your existing order. Second, you are legally entitled to request a review and modification of the child support arrangement once every three years. To do this, you would file a written, signed request with Child Support Enforcement. In your request, you will explain your reasons for requesting the modification and be sure to include your child support case number so that the office can easily identify your support order.

Contact a Gaithersburg and Bethesda Family Law Attorney Now

If you need help modifying your child support order, contact The McKeon Law Firm for a consultation today. We will explain your rights, help you fill out your forms, and advocate for your interests throughout the process. Call us at 301-417-9222 now.

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