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Since 2011, Louisiana has collected more than $2 million in child support from intercepting the winnings of non-custodial parents at the state’s 19 gambling casinos.

Other states with similar laws include Colorado, Mississippi, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio and West Virginia.

Here is a comparison applying the child support guidelines of each local jurisdiction to a typical case: two children, sole custody, $0 health insurance and $0 child care costs and combined monthly income of $10,000, non-custodial parent’s income is $7,500 and custodial parent’s income is $2,500:
District
total support $25,174/12 = $2,098
custodial % of income .75
recommended support order $1,573

Maryland
total support $1,811
custodial % of income .75
recommended support order $1,358

Virginia
total support – $1,567
custodial % of income .75
recommended support order $1,175

Again, applying the child support guidelines to a case with the same facts except combined monthly income of $15,000, non-custodial parent’s income is $11,250 and custodial parent’s income is $3,750:
District of Columbia recommended support order – $2,197

Maryland recommended support order – $2,135

Virginia recommended support order – $1,541

And the same facts except combined monthly income of $20,000, non-custodial parent’s income is $15,000 and custodial parent’s income is $5,000
District of Columbia: recommended support order – $2,714

Maryland recommended support order (extrapolated)- $2,847

Virginia recommended support order – $1,765

And now with combined monthly income of $30,000, non-custodial parent’s income is $22,500 and custodial parent’s income is $7,500
District of Columbia: recommended support order – $2,714

Maryland recommended support order (extrapolated)- $4,271

Virginia recommended support order – $2,144

As you can see, at higher incomes, child support is much lower in Virginia than in Maryland or the District, just as it was in 2011. At incomes over $20,000, recommended support in Maryland using extrapolation is much higher than in DC or Virginia.

Clifford Hall, 43, of Houston was sentenced to six months in jail for failure to pay child support.

After exhausting his appeal rights, he turned himself in and began serving his sentence last week.

But then AT&T, his employer, provided an affidavit that it had withheld the incorrect amount from his paychecks.

He was released from jail.

An 18 year old teenager from Lincoln Park, New Jersey has filed suit against her mother and father.

She claims they tossed her out of their home and cut her off financially.

She is suing for immediate support, current private-school fees and future college tuition.

She would not have a case in Maryland and Virginia, where parents are obligated to support children until age 18 unless they are still in high school, in which case it’s to 19 or graduation from high school, whichever comes first.  But that would be it.  In DC child support is to age 21.

 

Guest post by Lauren Williams, staff writer at King Law Offices, Family Law Attorneys in NC & SC.

In Maryland, a child’s entitlement to support does not depend upon parents’ marital status. Every child is entitled to a level of support in proportion to the parents’ economic position regardless of whether the child is born of wedlock or out-of-wedlock or to parents whose marriage ended in divorce.  As with children of divorce, children born out-of-wedlock are entitled to fairness and equity in regard to child support.

“Born out-of-wedlock” means born to an unmarried female or born to a married female but begotten during the continuance of the marriage status by one other than her husband.

Under Md. Code Ann., Est. & Trusts § 1-206(a) there is a presumption that the child is a legitimate child if the child is born or conceived during a marriage. A child born to parents who are not married is considered to be the child of the mother. Pursuant to Md. Code Ann., Est. & Trusts § 1-208(b), the ‘father and child relationship’ can be established in one of the following four methods: (1) Judicial determination of paternity, (2) Acknowledgment by father in writing that he is the father of the child, (3) Open and notorious recognition by the father that he is the father of the child, or (4) Acknowledgment by father that he is the father of the child after marrying the mother.

The Paternity Statute (Fam. Law §§ 5-1001 through 5-1048) provides a rebuttable presumption that the child is the legitimate child of the man to whom child’s mother was married at the time of conception. Upon request of a party, the court may order the parties (mother, child and the father) to submit to blood or genetic tests to determine the paternity. If the test reveals a statistical probability of the father’s paternity of at least 99.0%, it may be received into evidence and constitutes a rebuttable presumption of the paternity.  The court may pass necessary orders declaring the father based on the test.  The court may also pass necessary orders for 1, support, 2. Custody of the child, 3. Visitation rights with the child, 4. Giving bond, and 5. Any other matter that is related to the general welfare and best interests of the child.

If the child was conceived during a marriage, mere declaration by father claiming to be the father of a child born out-of-wedlock is not sufficient to overcome the presumption of legitimacy of the child based on the time of conception.  In order to overcome the presumption, the father must provide certain proof(s) specified in Md. Code Ann., Fam. Law § 5-1027(c)(2), (3), and (4).

Maryland follows the income shares model for child support.  Under this model, a child is entitled to a standard of living that corresponds to the economic position and lifestyle of the parents.

Guest Post by John Ellsworth, Esq.

If you’re paying alimony, you can take a tax deduction for the payments, even if you don’t itemize deductions.

Keep in mind, though, that the IRS won’t consider the payments to be true alimony unless they are spelled out in the divorce agreement. This is another rule for you to memorize: unless the divorce decree spells it out, it’s probably not going to be accepted by the IRS as alimony.

Your ex, meanwhile, must pay income tax on those amounts. Be sure you know your ex-spouse’s Social Security number. You have to report it on your tax return to claim the alimony deduction.

The opposite is true for child support: You don’t get a deduction for paying child support and the recipient doesn’t pay income tax.

Some issues are just too big and complex to tackle all at once.  What to do about the children is a good example.

But you can eat an elephant if you take your time and take small bites.

That’s what you do in negotiations.  If you get stuck on a problem, start breaking it down into to smaller bites.  Separate the issues.

Segregate the big issue of “children” into custody and child support.

Then take custody and keep breaking it down.  Segregate custody into who will make the legal decisions, where will the child  live, and what will the time sharing schedule look like.

You can even break down legal decisions into separate pieces like who will decide which doctors to use, who will decide where the child goes to school and who will decide what religion to raise the child in.

Sometimes it’s easier to reach agreement with a series of small decisions than trying to tackle the whole thing at once.

Father’s Rights Under “Duress”

Danny Carr, Counselor and Attorney at Law, punched the button on his phone this morning to listen to messages left last night on his voice-mail.

“I need to hire you for a custody case.  This is Ken Woodard. Call me at 301-555-5555.”

Carr hit redial, and when someone answered, he said,  “Mr. Woodard, this is Danny Carr, returning your call.”

“I was forced to give up custody and visitation by my wife’s attorney by duress,” said Woodard.

“Did he hold a gun to your head? “

“No, but he told me I would lose if I didn’t agree.”

“That’s not duress.”

“OK, well then I found out I still have to pay child support.”

“Right.  Parents are obligated to support their children.”

“But if I don’t have custody or visitation, haven’t my parental rights been terminated?”

“No.  You are still the children’s father.”

“My wife accused me of neglecting and abusing the kids.  Can I file a petition to terminate my parental rights on the basis of her saying I’m an unfit parent?”

“No.  You can’t file a complaint against yourself to terminate your own parental rights.”

“That doesn’t sound right.”

“I have to go now, Mr. Woodard.  Good luck with your case.”

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes were able to settle their divorce quickly.  Part of this was due to the fact that they had a prenuptial agreement.  A prenuptial agreement determines alimony and property distribution in the event of divorce.

But you cannot provide for custody, visitation or child support in a prenuptial agreement.  The reason for this is that the court has jurisdiction to determine what is in the best interest of the children based on circumstances at the time of divorce.

Likewise, child support will depend on custody and income at the time of divorce.  The parties can agree on custody, visitation and child support in a separation agreement or marital settlement agreement and the court will normally approve such an agreement.  These issues related to the child are the ones that Cruise and Holmes had to negotiate and resolve.

Two Mothers and Father’s Rights

In 2011, a young girl in California had two mothers.  One went to prison.  The other was hospitalized.  The girl’s father tried to assert his father’s rights to gain custody of the child.  The state appellate court ruled that he could not be the legal guardian of the girl because California law allows a child to have only two parents.  Custody was given to the state.

Sen. Mark Leno, (D) San Francisco, has introduced a bill to amend the law in California so that a child can have more than two parents if it is in the best interests of the child.  Leno said, “There are more than Ozzie and Harriet families today.”

Delaware, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia all permit a child to have more than two parents.

Under the proposal, families with three or more parents would share custody, financial responsibility and visitation for the child, based on a judge’s determination of each parent’s resources and time with the child.

Benjamin Lopez, legislative analyst for the Traditional Values Coalition, said Leno’s bill is just  a new attempt to “revamp, redefine and muddy the waters” of family structure in the drive to legalize gay marriage.