By Ashley Jolissaint, Legal Assistance Attorney, Fort Meade OTJAG
Maryland Property Tax Child Support and Custody Revisions Take Effect
During the 2020 legislative session, the Maryland General Assembly enacted several changes that will impact service-members, retirees and their families, specifically in the areas of property taxes, child support and custody.
Senate Bill 417/House Bill 257 authorizes local governments to grant a property tax credit for the primary residence of certain disabled Veterans. This bill also authorizes local governments to continue to provide the property tax credit to the Veteran’s surviving spouse. The amount of the tax credit is based on the disabled Veteran’s level of service-connected disability and limited to Veterans with an adjusted gross income of $100,000 or less.
Additionally, Senate Bill 700 extended eligibility for local property tax credit to Veterans under the age of 65. Eligible Veterans include active duty, retired, and honorably discharged Service-members. In order to qualify, Veterans must have a service-connected disability as defined by local law. Surviving un-remarried spouses also qualify for this property tax credit.
Child Custody and Child Support
The Maryland General Assembly made several significant changes regarding child custody and child support. These changes took effect on Oct. 1, 2020, and will apply to all new child support and custody orders as well as post-October 1 modifications of pre-existing orders.
Child support is awarded based on multiple factors, including the number of children, each parents’ monthly income, medical and dental insurance payments and expenses, childcare payments, and private tuition payments. Child custody is classified as either sole or shared custody, and the parent with the most overnights per year is the deemed the primary custodial parent. Generally, the secondary custodial parent pays the custodial parent child support for the support, welfare, and maintenance of the child.
The Oct. 1, 2020 change to Maryland law also lowers the number of nights children must spend with a parent to be considered “shared custody” for child support calculation purposes, providing credit to the secondary custodial parent for their overnights when calculating child support. Specifically, the minimum percentage of time a parent must have physical custody of their children in order to qualify as “shared” custody will decrease from 35% (128 overnights) to 25% (92 overnights). Sole custody will now only apply to situations in which the noncustodial parent has the child less than 25% of the time or 92 overnights per year. In that case, the sole custody child support guidelines will be utilized that do not give credit to the secondary parent for their overnights. If a parent has a child anywhere between 26% and 29% of the time, there are new calculations for each increment between 26% and 29%.
Finally, the Child Support Table also changed. Specifically, the combined monthly income table maximum will rise from $15,000 per month to $30,000 per month. Thus, a Court will have the authority to deviate from the child support guidelines if the parents’ combined monthly income exceeds $30,000 per month. Previously, when the parents had combined income of $15,000, they were “off the charts” which gave the Court discretion to decide child support in a larger number of cases. This combined income increase takes effect on Oct. 1, 2021. Until then, the existing $15,000 combined income table remains in effect, with parties that exceed this amount being left to the discretion of the judge when it comes to deciding the required child support obligation.
The child support and custody changes will require careful consideration during negotiations between parties seeking to divorce. If you already have a child support order in place, you may want to consult an attorney to determine if it makes sense to pursue a modification. Consequently, it is strongly recommended that you consult a knowledgeable attorney prior to finalizing child support and custody determinations.
To request an attorney consultation, contact the Fort Meade Legal Assistance Division at 301-677-9504/9536.