How to Figure Alimony & Child Support in a Divorce in Maryland

by Heather Frances Google

    When Maryland couples divorce, courts issue orders that govern many issues, including property division, custody, alimony and child support. Calculations for child support are heavily guided by state law, but judges have much more flexibility when making alimony awards because alimony is based on an evaluation of several factors rather than a particular formula.

    Alimony

    Maryland courts can award alimony to either spouse, but the amount of the award can vary greatly between couples. The type of alimony -- rehabilitative or indefinite -- may also influence the amount of the award. Rehabilitative alimony takes the form of short-term payments designed to help a former spouse obtain training, education or otherwise become self-supporting. Maryland courts prefer awarding rehabilitative alimony over indefinite alimony, which is alimony paid until the supported spouse remarries or either spouse dies.

    Alimony Factors

    When Maryland courts decide what type of alimony to award and how much is appropriate, they must do so by evaluating a number of factors identified in Maryland law. Some of these factors are based on the lesser-earning spouse’s situation, like her ability to become self-supporting and the time she would need to obtain an adequate education to do so. Maryland’s list of factors also include many related to the couple's marriage, such as the standard of living the spouses established during the marriage, duration of the marriage and contributions each spouse made to the marriage. Because Maryland courts consider the nature and amount of each spouse’s financial obligations when determining alimony awards, the amount a parent is ordered to pay in child support may have an impact on the amount awarded for alimony.

    Child Support

    In Maryland, child support is paid by the noncustodial parent and determined by the state's child support guidelines. Maryland’s guidelines are based on the income shares model, which allocates child support between parents according to each parent’s share of their combined incomes. For example, if the noncustodial parent earns 60 percent of the parents' combined income, he will pay 60 percent of the amount established for child support based on the state's guidelines.

    Child Support Calculations

    Maryland courts use a child support worksheet to calculate the noncustodial parent’s share of the child support obligation, which is split between the parents. The worksheet also allows adjustments for work-related child care expenses, child’s health insurance expenses and shared physical custody arrangements.

    About the Author

    Heather Frances has been writing professionally since 2005. Her work has been published in law reviews, local newspapers and online. Frances holds a Bachelor of Arts in social studies education from the University of Wyoming and a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School.

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