"I'm confused about when and how my child support payments for my two kids will end, based on the terms stated. Can someone help?"
I'm in a bit of a bind and hoping to get some clarity on a child support agreement. I'm from Maryland, and here's the crux: my agreement reads:
"The parties agree that the father shall pay directly to the Wife, for the support and maintenance of the minor children the sum of Nine Hundred Dollars ($900.00) per month, commencing December 1, 2022, payable on the first of each month until the youngest child has either died, married, become self-supporting, arrived at the age of eighteen years and graduated high school, or reached the age of nineteen years in any event, or until the death of the Husband, whichever occurs first".
To give a bit more info, I have two kids – a son who's 18 and a daughter who's 16. My son is set to finish high school this coming May. From the way this is written, it seems like I'll have to keep paying the full $900 until my daughter turns 18 or graduates. But by that time, my son will almost be 21! Shouldn't there be some specific terms for both kids? It feels like the amount for my son should be terminating soon. I reached out to my lawyer last week, but no response yet.
What type of lawyer should I be looking for to handle this? How do I make sure they're good and what might it cost me?
Analyzing Your Child Support Agreement
Understanding the Agreement: From your description, the child support payment's termination criteria appear to be based on the age and circumstances of the youngest child. This could imply that you continue to pay the full amount until your daughter meets one of the stipulated conditions. However, if the support amount is meant to be distributed amongst both children, there should be a clearer distinction in the agreement on how the amount adjusts when one child is no longer eligible.
Relevant Maryland Legal Resources
- Maryland Child Support Enforcement Administration
- Maryland Child Support Guidelines
- Maryland Family Law Section 12-104
To get a clearer understanding and potentially amend the terms:
- Consultation with Your Current Attorney: Wait for your attorney's response, as he might have insights into the intent and interpretation of the agreement.
- Seek a Second Opinion: If your attorney doesn't respond or you're unsatisfied with the answer, consider getting a second opinion. You can compare lawyers in your area and find the right lawyer who specializes in family law, specifically child custody.
- Court Intervention: If negotiations with your ex-spouse don't provide clarity or an agreeable solution, you might need to approach the court for a clearer interpretation or modification of the agreement.
Legal Fees Estimation in Maryland
|Legal Services||Average Cost|
|Initial Consultation with a Family Lawyer||$250 - $500|
|Filing a Motion to Modify Child Support||$1,500 - $3,000|
|Comprehensive Case Review||$2,000 - $5,000|
|Court Representation (if needed)||$5,000 - $10,000|
Note: Legal fees can vary significantly based on the complexity of the case, the lawyer's experience, and other factors. It's essential to get a clear cost estimate before committing to any legal services.
Your case has multiple layers, and for a more comprehensive solution, more details are needed.
Would you be able to provide:
- A more detailed breakdown of your current agreement.
- Any communication or explanations your lawyer provided when the agreement was drafted.
- The specific circumstances of both your children (e.g., college plans, employment).
Q1: When does child support typically end in Maryland?
In Maryland, child support generally continues until the child reaches 18 or graduates from high school, whichever comes later. However, it cannot extend beyond the age of 19 unless there are special circumstances (e.g., disabilities).
Q2: Can child support be modified after it's been set?
Yes, child support can be modified if there's a significant change in circumstances, such as a change in income, cost of living, or the needs of the child.
Q3: Is there a specific method in Maryland for dividing child support for multiple children?
Maryland uses Child Support Guidelines which consider multiple factors, including the number of children. Typically, as each child becomes ineligible, the support amount is adjusted. However, specifics should be clearly laid out in the agreement.
Q4: Can I get a refund for overpaid child support if my son was supposed to be off the support earlier?
Refunds are not automatic. If you believe you've overpaid, you'll need to approach the court or come to an agreement with the other parent.
Q5: How can I ensure my child support payments are being used for my children's needs?
While child support is meant for the child's benefit, the recipient parent has discretion over its use. If you believe the funds aren't benefiting your children, you'd need evidence and might have to approach the court.