Understanding Child Support Cases

What is Child Support?

Child Support is financial support paid to a parent who has custody over a child or children (a custodial parent) by the other parent who does not have the custody (a paying parent).

If a person is established as a legal parent of a child, that person MUST support the child. It's a crime for a legal parent to fail to support his or her child. A legal parent also has the right to seek custody and/or visitation rights related to the child.

The Court addresses the issue of child support when:

  • Either the mother or the father from a married couple files a Complaint for Child Support as part of a Complaint for a Divorce or files a Petition for Custody and Support of Minor Children's Action; or
  • Either the mother or the father from an unmarried couple files an action to establish the parental relationship or files a Petition for Custody and Support of Minor Children.
  • The Maryland Child Support Enforcement Program at the Maryland Department of Human Resources may also initiate an action about child support issues.

No legal obligation to pay child support from one parent to the other arises until a court order is issued. The support order may include child care expenses, health insurance coverage, medical expenses, educational expenses, and travel expenses. A parent must pay child support until the child turns 18 or graduates high school, whichever is later. Child support ends at age 19 or when the child is emancipated.

Basic Steps in Child Support Cases

Once you, as the parent rearing the child, has considered all the topics involving family cases, you or your attorney may file a Complaint for Child Support from the other parent who is legally in a parental relationship with the child, to seek financial support for raising the child. Like other domestic relations cases, the filing parent must serve the other party with a Summons and the papers filed in the Court. In turn, the served parent must file an Answer, responding to the claims made in the original Complaint. At a child support hearing, the judge, based on the facts presented to the Court, will approve, reject, or make modifications to the original Complaint.

Child Support Filing Fees

$165.00 cash, money order, or check (payable to the "Clerk of Court").

Child Support Forms

Child Support forms are available at the Circuit Court Family Department or the Maryland Judiciary website. Be sure to file all forms with the Family Department.

The Family Department maintains copies of the following forms:

  • Packet #1: Complaint for Child Support
  • Packet #2: Petition for Contempt ( Failure to Pay Child Support or Denial of Visitation)
  • Packet #5: Petition to Modify Child Support
  • Form CC-DR-050: Answer to Complaint/Petition/Motion

Additional Child Support Resources

If you wish to enforce the existing child support, contact the:

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