Maryland/DC Joint Custody: Do I still have to contribute child support

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Likely, even if both parents have 50/50 joint custody, the higher income parent will end up paying child support to the lower income parent. This is because child support is a joint obligation of both parents. How it works in Maryland and in the District of Columbia is complicated looking at the income of each parent, how many children and how many days a year each parent has physical custody of the child/children. If you have questions about child support payments, call the attorneys at The Law Offices of Thomas Stahl. Our numbers are (410) 696-4326 or (202) 964-7280. Here is how it works when the parents are sharing custody.

The TOTAL amount of child support is based on the COMBINED income of both parents based on statutory guidelines. From that total, each parent is required to “pay” child support in proportion to their part of the combined total parental income. So, if the parents make about the same amount of money each month, each will be required to pay about the same in child support each month.

However, the parent with physical custody “pays” their share of the child support by providing the home, food, clothing, and other necessities for day-to-day living. The non-custodial parent pays his or her share of child support to the custodial parent by writing a check or by some form of earnings garnishment. But when physical custody is shared, both parents are “paying” for child support in the form of housing, food, etc. Because of this, the amount of money that must be paid is reduced in proportion to the number of days/overnights that the “paying” parent has with the child/children. Thus, if both parents earn about the same amount AND both parents have an equal share of custody, then neither parent will pay child support. Let’s look at examples.


Both Maryland and the District of Columbia have online child support calculators that can be used to estimate child support payment obligations. See linked websites. For our example, let’s assume two children and that the total monthly parental income is $10,000 ($120,000 a year). Under the Maryland guidelines, the TOTAL child support obligation for each month is $2,716. Because the parents’ incomes are equal, then the non-custodial parent would pay $1,358 per month. In DC, the number is lower: the total child support is $2,098 per month for a monthly payment of $1,049.

Now let’s assume that the physical custody is shared. In DC, there is no reduction in child support unless custody is shared at about one third (135 days). But, under the Maryland Guidelines, joint custody adjustments can be made with 100 days/overnights. Here are a few examples under the Maryland Guidelines:

  • 0 days/overnights – as noted above, $1,358 per month
  • 100 days/overnights – net basic child support obligation would fall to $673 per month
  • 125 days/overnights – $428 per month
  • 150 days/overnights – $242 per month

Note that under the Maryland Guidelines, for more than 100 days/overnights, the actual recommended child support order is $0.00 per month. As can be seen, predicting child support is very complicated.

Maryland and DC Divorce and Family Law Attorneys

For more information, contact the seasoned and experienced Maryland and DC divorce, family law and estate planning attorneys at The Law Offices of Thomas Stahl. We have the experience and expertise you need. We also have proven experience with divorce and family law for Maryland and the District of Columbia. Schedule a consultation today or call us at (410) 696-4326 or (202) 964-7280. We have offices in Columbia, MD and Washington, DC.

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