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How Maryland parents can modify a child support order

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When Maryland parents divorce or split up, one of them typically pays child support to the other. This monthly amount is based on state guidelines as well as the noncustodial parent's income. Sometimes after the court issues the order, though, drastic life changes occur. These situations can prevent a parent from paying the full child support amount on a timely basis. That is why a modification may be sought.

There are several reasons why a court may consider a change in the order. These include a substantial change in the child's living situation or in a parent's income, job status or health. For example, job loss or disability may qualify as valid reasons. If the child is no longer living with the custodial parent, then that may be another good reason to modify the support order.

The order can also be modified in favor of the custodial parent. For example, if he or she is aware that the other parent received a substantial pay raise or changed to a much higher-paying job, then he or she can petition the court to award more support.

In Maryland, parents seeking child support modification need to follow a few steps. For individuals who are not receiving assistance from the government, the first step is to complete Form DOM REL 6. Next, a financial statement for the child must be completed and all filing fees must be paid. After the forms are filed, the other parent will be served copies of the filing documents, along with a Writ of Summons.

After the other parent has been served copies of the documents, the parent seeking modification will need to file a request for hearing or proceeding. At the hearing, an individual may present proof of income from both sides, and other evidence that may support a change in child support payments. The court will then determine if the changes are substantial enough to warrant a modification and make a decision.

Situations change and sometimes it makes sense to increase or decrease a child support amount. In the end, it is the child who benefits the most from full and timely child support payments. A family law attorney may be able to help with this process.


Source: Maryland Courts, "Petition/Motion To Modify Child Support Instructions For Completing DOM REL 6," accessed on Nov. 14, 2014

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