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Child Custody

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 so that we can assist you with the complex and important process of protecting yourself and your child's future. 

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