After a divorce is finalized in the state of Maryland, the court issues a decree that may order one spouse to pay alimony and child support to the other spouse. Under state law, after a divorce decree is issued, an automatic withholding order is sent to the employer so that alimony and child support payments are withheld from his wages. A parent who fails to pay alimony or child support as ordered may face criminal and civil penalties.
Paying Party's Obligations
In Maryland, child support payments are garnished directly from the paying party's paycheck through an order issued to his employer. Even though these funds are set up for automatic deduction, it is still the paying party's responsibility to ensure the money is paid properly and free of any errors. If the parent responsible for child support payments is self-employed, he must make these payments directly, in accordance with a payment schedule set up by the court.
If a parent who is paying child support suffers a significant change in circumstances affecting her ability to pay, then she may petition the court for a modification of her child support obligations. Qualifying circumstances may include loss of employment, or a serious health condition or accident involving the paying parent. Modifications may also be made to increase child support payments if the child suffers a serious illness, disability or accident.
If payments are not made as required, the receiving party may seek assistance from a local child support agency, such as a Child Support Enforcement Administration (CSEA) to enforce the order. The CSEA may assist by contacting the other parent or by initiating legal action with the courts. The CSEA has authority to take administrative action against a parent for non-payment of child support, including listing the parent on an online registry and having her driver's license and any professional licenses revoked.
The parent who receives child support may also take legal action by filing a motion to enforce the child support order in court. After a hearing, the judge may issue an order imposing penalties upon the paying spouse. This parent may also be referred to the State's Attorney's office for potential criminal prosecution, if he fails to make payments, despite having an ability to pay. If a judge finds the paying party failed to abide by the court's prior orders, the court may hold the parent in contempt of court and send him to jail for non-payment.