Thorough Montgomery County Child Custody and Child Support Attorney Focused On What’s Best For Your Children
Family issues involving child custody and child support are often time consuming and emotionally complex. Questions regarding living arrangements, decision-making and financial assistance have the potential to make a difficult situation even more challenging. Fortunately, attorney Carol R. Schifter has dedicated her professional life to helping Rockville families move forward.
In the state of Maryland, judges first and foremost consider the best interests of the child when issuing child custody decisions. Neither parent begins with an advantage, and state law provides judges with great discretion in determining custody arrangements. Put simply: a Maryland judge may consider anything that is relevant to parenting when establishing a custody arrangement.
When establishing a child custody arrangement, a Maryland judge will also evaluate the child’s age, health, and sex. She or he will consider the areas in which both parents live and existing opportunities for visitation. Maryland courts typically prefer arrangements that provide stability and continuity, particularly those promoting a natural family relationship. If the child is old enough, a judge may allow them to state her or his preference. Under Maryland state law, a court may deny custody and visitation rights if one parent has demonstrated a lack of concern for their child’s physical or emotional well-being.
“Legal” Custody vs. “Physical” Custody
“Legal” custody refers to a parent’s authority to engage in serious and long-term decisions regarding their child’s health care, education and religious instruction. By contrast, “physical” custody refers to the actual time the child spends with one parent. Keep in mind that a Maryland judge awarding joint legal custody will not necessarily also award joint physical custody — final decisions vary depending on the specifics of each case.
Decisions regarding child support place a premium on Maryland’s “Income Shares Model,” which states that the amount of money you and your former spouse spent on your child while married must be applied to any final support amount. Keep in mind, however, that this figure is divided between you and the other parent based on your respective incomes.
Adjusted Actual Income
In the state of Maryland, your actual income often includes all kinds of pre-tax income, such as salary or hourly wage, commissions, self-employment revenue, disability payments and investments. If you’re self-employed, you may be able to deduct the necessary costs of doing business from your gross receipts. Calculating your adjusted actual income can be difficult and consulting an experienced family law attorney is crucial to ensuring you obtain the outcome you desire.
After a Maryland judge has issued her or his initial child support order, a parent wishing to modify said order must demonstrate a significant change in circumstances. Common changes include one parent receiving a salary or making a permanent change in the number of days each parent spends with their child. Under state law, you may also request a modification if there has been a change resulting in a 25% increase (or decrease) of the agreed upon support amount.