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Maryland Child Support Guidelines Updates – Incarcerated Obligors 2020

Maryland Child Support Guidelines Updates – Incarcerated Obligors 2020

Disclaimer: The law discussed in this blog was current when published.  However, changes have occurred to the law since and you can read about those here.  If you have questions about these changes and how they affect you and your family, please contact the attorney Lindsay Parvis for a consultation.

October 1, 2020 saw updates to the law (Family Law Article §12-104.1) allowing suspension of child support when the payor (the person required to pay child support; also called “obligor”) is sentenced to incarceration for 180 consecutive calendar days or more.  This is a change from 18 consecutive months to 180 consecutive days.  This applies to cases filed on and after October 1, 2020.

The law’s other requirements remain the same:

  • The payor is not on work release and has insufficient funds to pay support; and,
  • The payor didn’t commit the crime intending to be incarcerated or of becoming impoverished (so, unable to pay support).

What tips should parents and attorneys keep in mind?

  • There’s not much law on this topic.  Have Wills v. Jones, 340 Md. 480 (1995) (predating §12-104.1) and Damon v. Robles, 245 Md.App. 233 (2020) on your radar.
  • Look ahead.  To 2021’s changes to Family Law Article §12-202, introducing the “no support order” when a parent is incarcerated and expected to remain so for the remaining time required to pay child support.  See the link below for discussion about no support orders.
  • If OCSE doesn’t address suspension, file a motion.  Because child support and arrears do not automatically suspend or get adjusted.
  • Retroactivity.  Damon v. Robles, 245 Md.App. 233 (2020) is an interesting discussion of 2 exceptions to retroactivity limitations:  1)  when a law’s changes apply to circumstances existing before the law went into effect (contrary to the material change exclusion of Family Law Article §12-202(b)) and 2) suspension of support prior to the date of filing (contrary to the limitation of Family Law Article §12-104).  These exceptions may apply to this newest update to Family Law Article §12-104.1.

For other articles in this series about updates to the child support guidelines law in 2020 and 2021:

Since 2002, Lindsay Parvis has represented clients in Maryland custody, divorce, and marital matters. She negotiates, litigates, and advocates for the best interests of her clients, whether in contested litigation, uncontested settlement, or premarital and other agreements. Her clients are not only spouses and parents, but also children whose interests she is appointed by the court to represent in contested custody litigation.  Lindsay strives to improve Maryland law in the General Assembly, volunteering her time to monitor, advocate, and educate about legislative developments in family law.

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