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Does Buying My Child Gifts Count as Child Support?

Bel Air Child Support Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Provide Experienced Counsel Regarding Child Support .

Child support payments are intended to cover the basic needs of a child including food, clothing, and housing. Other expenses that are covered by child support vary from state to state and can extend to items like childcare, education fees, medical care, and extracurricular activities. Child support is payment of money to the other parent in an amount specified in a legally binding child support order. Buying gifts for a child is not a substitute for providing the child support payment decided by the court. Often, gifts that a parent wishes to be accounted for as child support are expensive but not considered necessary, like tablets or cellphones. The custodial parent needs money, not gifts, to be able to provide for the child’s basic needs. If you have an ex-spouse who wants gifts made to the child to be considered as child support payments, you should consult with family law attorney.

Child Support in Maryland

In Maryland, a formula called the Child Support Guidelines is used for calculating child support payments. The formula takes into account factors such as each parent’s gross income, work-related childcare expenses, health insurance expenses, and extraordinary medical expenses. The guidelines also consider how many other children each parent must support, how many overnights each parent will spend with the child, and which parent is carrying the cost of health insurance, dental insurances, and school tuition, if applicable.

If the parents have a combined income of more than $15,000 per month, then the court will determine the amount of child support based on the child’s needs. If any party can show that use of the guidelines would be inappropriate or unjust the court will consider calculating child support in a different manner, though this rarely happens.

Besides the basic needs of food, housing, and clothing, child support in Maryland includes childcare expenses, health insurance expenses, medical expenses, educational expenses, and travel expenses. Parents who have separated or divorced amicably may want to create their own child support agreement. This is allowed as long as the agreement is made along the state guidelines. Parents who cannot come to an agreement together may have to request a court order for child support. Child support lasts until the child is 18 years of age or graduates from high school, whichever is later, but no later than when the child turns 19. If the child becomes emancipated, then child support could end earlier.

Clearing Gifts with the Court

Any gift that a parent wants to be considered as child support should be cleared with the court, otherwise he or she cannot expect that a gift can take the place of child support payments that have already been arranged through a judge. This is because anything other than the specified child support payment amount will be automatically considered a gift with no connection to support payments unless it has been cleared by a judge to be included as child support.

Filing for Child Support in Maryland

All child support services in Maryland run through the Child Support Enforcement Administration (CSEA). The CSEA can help parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, or other court-appointed guardians for help getting services such as obtaining a court order for child support and health insurance, collecting child support payments, enforcing the court order, locating the other parent, establishing legal paternity, and reviewing and adjusting the amount of court-ordered support payments.

An application for Support Enforcement Services costs 25 dollars and can be filed with the local child support office. Usually, a child support order takes between 90 and 180 days, but delays can happen when there is an issue verifying income, the other parent resides in a different state, does not attend the court hearing, or is incarcerated.

Changes to Child Support

Substantial changes to a family’s circumstances can warrant modifications of the amount of child support that was agreed upon or ordered by the court. Any modification must be made by formally petitioning the court. A significant increase or decrease in one parent’s income may be grounds for modifying an existing support order. An increase in medical expenses for a child who becomes severely ill or disabled is another substantial change that warrants a modification. A parent’s illness, unemployment, or prison sentence will significantly affect their ability to make child support payments. And finally, the expense of raising children increases as they get older and may require modifying an existing support order.

It is very important that any changes made to existing agreements be filed through the court with a formal petition no matter how amicable your relationship with your ex. Having everything in writing is the best way to clearly show each party’s legal obligation regarding child support and avoid future misunderstandings and resentment. You should know that a child support order is legally binding until a modification is issued by the court. If you lose your job and are unable to pay but did not file a motion for modification you are still liable for support payments under the original agreement and any accumulation of support arrearages, even if you had a verbal agreement with your ex-spouse to pay a lower amount. You could even be ordered to appear in court for a contempt hearing if you fail to pay the original child support amount. Any significant material changes should always be documented by filing a motion to modify the existing child support order with the same court that issued the order. You will need to provide evidence to the court that your circumstances have changed significantly since the original order.

Bel Air Child Support Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Provide Experienced Counsel Regarding Child Support

If you have questions about including gifts as part of child support payments contact the compassionate Bel Air child support lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC. Our goal is to provide our clients with legal services that resolve your conflict quickly and reasonably. Call 443-589-0150 today to schedule a free and confidential consultation or contact us online. From our offices in Hunt Valley and Towson, Maryland we assist clients in Baltimore, Baltimore County, Bel Air, Bentley Springs, Columbia, Freeland, Hereford, Hampton, Westminster, Essex, Monkton, Sparks Glencoe, Parkton, Phoenix, Pikesville, White Hall, Carroll County, Harford County, and Howard County.

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