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Above the Guidelines Child Support - Bagley v. Bagley

Posted by Josephia Rouse | Sep 28, 2017 | 0 Comments

So, either someone has told you about an above the guidelines case, 

   " I am trying to find out how much child support I will be paying based on Maryland Child Support Guidelines."

   "The other parent of my child told me I will be paying above and beyond Maryland child support guidelines because of our income and I want to know how to protect myself." 

    " I have never heard of above the guidelines child support in Maryland, how can they get more money out of me."

     " I heard I can get more money from my child's parent to help pay for school, and maintain the same standard of living that our child had before our separation

in the State of Maryland."

Or your tried to use the State of Maryland Department of Human Resources, Child Support Guidelines Worksheet A or Worksheet B Calculator. 

     "Why isn't the worksheet giving me an amount that I should pay, I put all the information in?"

     "I need to have an estimate of what my child support can be, why does it say I need an attorney?" 

     " I need to know if I can have our child's private or charter school paid for."

     "I need to know if I can get enough child support to help me keep our child in the house and neighborhood they are accustomed to."

Whatever is going on you want to know if you really need an attorney for this case, so consider the following. 

Above the Guidelines Child Support 

In Maryland, child support is typically determined by a fixed formula found mainly in Md. Code Ann. Fam Law Article 12-201,  Md. Code Ann. Fam Law Article 12-202Md. Code Ann. Fam Law Article 12-203 and Md. Code Ann. Fam Law Article 12-204 with the child support calculator that can be found here. In cases of high income the fixed formula is not automatically accepted by the courts. The courts have the ability to award a higher or lower amount in those cases. Child Support can be adjusted to consider a child's needs.

You might be dealing with an above the guidelines child support case if both parents combined adjusted income exceeds $15,000.00. 

   Here's the deal, the Courts decided in Bagley v. Bagley, 98 Md. App. 18 (1993), in cases of high income levels judicial discretion is better suited than a fixed formula. They determined that it was better for the Courts to make a decision on a case by case basis. The Courts have the following considerations from Bagley to guide it in its decision in an Above the Guidelines Case. 

1) the purpose of the Income Shares Model underlying the guidelines, i.e., maintain the children at the same standard of living they would have enjoyed absent the parties' divorce;

2) the financial circumstances of each party;

3) each party's station in life;

4) the age and physical condition of the parties;

5) the costs of educating the child;

6) the need for consistency of support awards;

7) the maximum in the schedule is the minimum for combined incomes above the schedule;

8) the results of extrapolation from the schedule.

Again these factors are a guide, and the court may or may not choose to change the guidelines at all in coming up with a determination of what child support should be. An experienced attorney can assist you with determining the strengths and weaknesses of your case so that your chances at prevailing are the best they could be. 

Not only are the above factors important,  the Court also considers Md. Code Ann., Family Law Article, Sections 12-202(a)(2)(iii) in determining whether to increase child support above the Maryland Child Support Guidelines or not. The Code says; 

         "The presumption may be rebutted by evidence that the application of the guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate in the particular case." 

This gives the Court the broad ability to look at both parties entire financial situation and determine if a deviation from the child support guidelines would be appropriate. The Court case Bagley v. Bagley and The Code section are the main reasons why the Maryland Department of Human Resources refers cases with income above $15,000.00 to attorneys. An experienced attorney can assist you in the process of figuring out the best path forward when so much is at risk. Call us at The Law Offices of Josephia Rouse at 410-366-6664 so that we can assist you with the complex and important process of protecting yourself and your child's future. 

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About the Author

Josephia Rouse

Josephia Rouse Esq. is a Solo Practitioner in Baltimore, MD whose practice includes Family Law, Criminal Law, Estate Planning and Probate, Guardianships, Best Interest Attorney appointments and Mediation. Before opening her law office, Ms. Rouse worked at the Department of Veterans Affairs as a L...

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