Determine Child Support in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia

We’ve been looking at various financial issues in divorce.  This post and the next two are about child support and how the local jurisdictions are similar and how they differ.

Child Support Orders

The amount of the child support order payable is determined under statutory guidelines in all three local jurisdictions.  The law in each jurisdiction provides that the amount of child support determined by applying the guidelines to the facts of the case is presumptively the correct amount of support to be ordered.

The District of Columbia revised its guidelines recently and all three jurisdictions now use a shared income model as the basis for the child support guidelines.   Shared income models are based on the notion that the amount of money needed to support the child(ren) should be based on the combined incomes of the parties and then allocated between the parties in proportion to their respective incomes.  The shared income model also takes account of the number of children and whether custody is sole or shared.

Maryland, Virginia and DC all add reasonable day care costs to the basic child support obligation that is divided between the parties and all three jurisdictions adjust for health insurance costs attributable to the children.  See DC Code Sec. 16.916.01, MD. Code F.L. Article Sec. 12-204, Va. Code Sec. 20-108.2.

Child Support Enforcement

One big difference among the jurisdictions is that in the District child support enforcement continues for a child through high school and until age 21.  In Maryland and Virginia child support ends at age 18, except that support continues for a full time high school student until the earlier of high school graduation or the child’s nineteenth birthday.