When your marriage is ending, sudden uncertainty about the future can seem overwhelming. Custody issues are likely foremost on your mind.

One of those issues may be child support. You may wonder how you will meet the financial needs of your children after the divorce. You need answers and sound, knowledgeable advice.

How do courts calculate child support?

The Maryland Child Support Administration provides a calculator so you can estimate child support ahead of time. However, the courts may award an amount that differs from the estimate.

Courts consider the income of each parent and the total cost of caring for the children. Other factors include how parties split parenting time, cost of child care and health insurance expenses. Parents may not waive child support.

What does child support pay for?

Maryland courts expect the custodial parent to use child support to pay for basic living expenses such as housing and food. Support should also cover medical expenses not covered by insurance, including orthodontia, physical therapy and counseling if needed.

Can courts modify child support later?

The original child custody order is subject to change under certain circumstances. One party’s income may increase or decrease significantly. A change to parenting time or other custody arrangements may also lead to a child support modification. Eventually, child support orders end. In Maryland, this happens upon high school graduation or when children turn 18.

As you divorce, you and your spouse need to put the children’s welfare first. Courts will expect you to agree on a parenting plan, including a reasonable amount of child support.