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Child Support Guidelines in Maryland: Recent Legislative History (2010)

April 25, 2015

2010

Because the child support guidelines have not been updated since 1988, Chairman Brian Frosh and Delegate Jeffrey Waldstreicher cross-filed a bill update the guidelines to modernize the child support payment rates to reflect the costs of raising a child in 2010. Maryland lawmakers passed the legislation that updated the Maryland child support guidelines for the first time in over twenty years . The new adjusted guidelines will go into effect October 1, 2010 and will only apply to new child support cases (i.e. establishments) or motions to modify child support after that date. The guidelines cap has been raised to $15,000 combined earnings per month, rather than the current $10,000. Most significantly, the new guidelines will adjust to the current increased cost of raising a child.

In addition, House Bill 1466 – Law 469 – Family Investment Program – Temporary Cash Assistance – Assignment of Support became effective July 1, 2009. This law repeals a provision that required Temporary Cash Assistance (TCA) applicants and recipients to assign tothe State the right to receive child support accrued prior to receiving TCA. The bill specifies that the applicant or recipient must assign to the State all right, title,and interest in support only for the period that the family receives TCA.

 2009

On behalf of the Department of Human Resources (DHR), the Chair of the Judiciary Committee sponsored House Bill 401- Child Support Guidelines Revision. The Child Support Advisory Committee recommendations were reflected in the proposed legislation. The bill:

  • Revised the current guidelines to reflect more recent estimates of child-rearing costs;
  • Expanded the current schedule to include awards for incomes up to $30,000/month and adjusted the self-support reserve, which is the amount of money a low-income non-custodial parent needs to live on, from the 1988 federal poverty level of $481/month to the 2008 level of $867/month;
  • Altered the definition of “actual income” to address those parents who have additional children living with them;
  • Authorized the court to consider all income and assets of each parent in determining whether to deviate from the guidelines and altered the definition of “extraordinary medical expenses” to reflect the current, average out-of-pocket medical expenses incurred annually on behalf of a child.

Outcome: The House Judiciary Committee conducted a hearing and the bill subsequently received an unfavorable vote.

2008

Senate Bill 70 – Law 508 – Family Law – Child Support Enforcement – Medical Support for Children became effective October 1, 2008.

The law requires that health coverage must be ordered if available at a reasonable cost and accessible to the children. In the absence of health insurance, CSEA must petition for cash medical support.

The bill defines “reasonable cost” for health insurance or cash medical support as not exceeding five percent of the parent’s actual income.

The bill defines “accessible” to the child as 30 miles or 30 minutes from the child’s residence.

 2002

House Bill 284 was introduced by then Delegate Sharon Grosfeld. HB 284 proposed revising the schedule of basic child support obligations used to calculate the amount of a child support award under child support guidelines. It raised the maximum combined adjusted income to $20,000 per month to allow for equitable formulation of support amounts for high income parents. It also included an adjustment of the monthly income for the self-support reserve to $850 for low-income non-custodial parents.

Outcome: After hours of debate and numerous amendments offered, HB 284 received an unfavorable report from the Judiciary Committee.

 2001

HB 822 and SB 380 were sponsored by then Delegate Sharon Grosfeld and then Senator Walter Baker. The proposed legislation was based on recommendations from the child support guidelines committee. The bills included the following provisions:

  • Updated the schedule of child support obligations to provide for support obligations that reflect current economic data regarding the cost of raising children;
  • Increased the self-support reserve to reflect the current poverty level of the non-custodial parent;
  • Raised the maximum combined adjusted income to $20,000 per month to allow for equitable formulation of support amounts for high-income parents;
  • Standardized the way the court must deal with intact second families;
  • Standardized the way the court must deal with income received by the non-custodial parent and the child from Social Security (SSA) benefits;
  • Reduced the amount of time the child must be in the care of the non-custodial parent to qualify for a “shared custody” arrangement.

Outcome Both bills received unfavorable reports in the House Judiciary Committee and the Judicial Proceedings Committee.

 1989

The child support guidelines schedule legislation, which was based on 1970’s economic data, became law. The Maryland child support guidelines are based on the income shares model, which was developed under the Child Support Guidelines Project funded by the U.S. Office of Child Support Enforcement and administered by the National Center for State Courts. The guidelines have not been updated since the original 1988 legislation.

Outcome: The legislation required that on or before January 1, 1993, and at least every four years after that date, the Child Support Enforcement Administration (CSEA) must review the child support guidelines to ensure the determination of appropriate child support awards and to report its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly.

 Child Support Legislation History


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