Maryland Emancipation & Child Support Rules

By Brenna Davis

Noncustodial parents have a legal obligation to support their minor children and generally must pay child support to the custodial parent to cover a portion of the child's expenses. The noncustodial parent must continue paying child support until the child reaches the age of majority or is legally emancipated, even if the custodial parent remarries or her income increases. Child support is a right of the child and cannot be waived by the custodial parent.

Child Support Basics

Divorced parents in Maryland are legally responsible for supporting their children until they become legally recognized adults, at the age of 18 or judicially emancipated prior to 18. Judges issue child support awards based on the income of each parent, the time each parent spends with the child, the specific needs of the child and the standard of living to which the child was accustomed prior to the divorce. Child support obligations generally increase along with the parent's income, but unlike some states, Maryland does not establish a level of support based on a specific percentage of the parent's income. Parents may seek a reduction in child support by petitioning the court that originally issued the child support order. In most cases, child support payments in Maryland are deducted directly from the parent's paycheck in the form of a garnishment.


In Maryland, the age of majority at which children become legally recognized as adults is 18, but emancipation allows a minor to be recognized as an adult prior to that age. The courts in Maryland may grant emancipation if a minor marries, joins the military, demonstrates that they are living separately from their parents and have a source of income, or in cases of parental neglect and abuse. Children cannot be legally emancipated until their parents, a guardian or a governmental agency petition the courts for emancipation, and child support obligations continue until a judge issues an emancipation order. Judges are unlikely to allow young teenagers to become emancipated, even if they are working, but teenagers 16 and over are likely to win petitions for emancipation if they prove to the court they will be self-supporting.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Emancipation Procedure

Children may create unofficial written or oral agreements, with their parents allowing them to live on their own or limiting the parent's control over the child's money. But these agreements have no legal status, and the parent may still be responsible for child support payments in the eyes of the law. Parents or other interested parties may seek an official judicial order authorizing emancipation, by petitioning the juvenile court in the county in which the child resides. A clerk will schedule a hearing on the emancipation at which time the judge hears any objections. If the judge finds there is cause to emancipate the child, he will issue an order of emancipation, effectively declaring that the minor is an adult for all purposes.

Back Child Support

Emancipation absolves parents of future child support, but will not eliminate their duties to pay previously owed child support. Failure to pay child support in Maryland can result in wage garnishment, contempt citations and even imprisonment.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Nevada Law on the Emancipation of a Minor Child


Related articles

Reasons to Deviate From California Guidelines for Child Support

Divorce does not relieve either parent of the obligation to financially support their children. In California, state guidelines are used to calculate a support amount according to the incomes of both parents. However, in some cases, the amount that a parent is ordered to pay is found to be inappropriately high or low. Courts have the discretion to deviate from the support formula in limited circumstances when this happens.

Can Child Support Be Waived in Florida?

Child support is the money paid by each parent to contribute to a child's normal expenditures. When parents share custody, each party may be required to pay for certain expenses. When one parent is the primary custodian, however, the noncustodial parent typically pays child support directly to the custodial parent. While the custodial parent may choose not to take a non-paying parent to court over child support, child support cannot legally be waived because it is considered a right of the child, not the parent.

What Is the Maximum Amount of Child Support in Maryland?

A divorce does not end a parent's duty to financially support his children. In Maryland, child support is calculated according to a set formula contained in state law and based on the parents' incomes. Because a child's needs take precedence over the interests of the parents, a judge is not necessarily bound by a support calculation and may order a higher payment if he deems it necessary to cover expenses related to the care of the child. There is no statutory maximum limit to the amount of support the court can order.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

When Can Child Support Be Terminated in Kentucky?

In Kentucky, child support usually terminates when a child reaches the age of majority, which under Kentucky law, ...

Does Child Support Automatically Stop When a Child Turns 18 in Maryland?

Child support laws often confound parents because the finer points change from state to state and few universal, ...

Does Child Support End When the Child Graduates From High School?

Graduation from high school may or may not end your obligation to pay child support. It depends on two main factors, ...

Which Form Ends Child Support in California at Age 18?

In an age where sons and daughters remain longer in the family home, one may question the concept of childhood ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED