Just because a child support order has been issued or a divorce agreement specifically lays out child support arrangements, it does not mean that child support obligations cannot change. Indeed, there are a lot of situations in which child support payments could change following a court order or divorce agreement.

In Maryland, child support obligations are calculated by looking at both parents’ combined adjusted actual incomes. Even if one of the parents is unemployed, he or she could still be responsible for paying child support based on his or her potential income determination. Once a child support order has been made, it will include money to cover child care expenses, medical expenses, health insurance coverage, travel expenses and educational expenses. Generally, parents will be required to pay child support until the child reaches the age of 18 or finishes high school — whichever happens latest. Once the child is emancipated — or when the child reaches the age of 19 — child support will end.

Child support will remain the same following a divorce agreement or court order until one or the other parents petitions the court for a change. Suitable grounds for filing a petition to alter child support obligations could include a significant change in one or the other parents’ income and/or economic circumstances. These changes might relate to the parents’ income at work or employment status.

It is important for parents with changing economic circumstances to notify the court about their economic inability to meet their child support obligations immediately. This will help ensure that the parent does not get behind on his or her child support payments — a violation that could have severe financial, criminal and child custody consequences.

Source: FindLaw, “Maryland Child Support Guidelines,” accessed July 15, 2016