Child support overhaul progresses in Maryland
Maryland's House of Delegates on Saturday passed a bill to overhaul the state's child support guidelines for the first time in more than 20 years, setting up a compromise battle with the Senate, which has passed a different version of the reform.
Both bills now working their way through the legislature would significantly increase child support payments required of noncustodial parents from newly split homes. But the House rejected a measure that could allow hundreds of thousands of parents who have custody to seek court-ordered increases to their current agreements.
The Senate version would allow parents in October to begin petitioning for more money if the amount they could receive under the new guidelines would go up by 25 percent or more. The House bill would only apply to future child support arrangements, and it would not take effect until Oct. 2011.
Another difference: The Senate version would dictate child support for parents making up to a combined $360,000 annually; the House version would stop applying beyond combined income above $180,000 annually.
Both bills, however, have the same chart that would guide the amount parents would owe. Most parents making a combined $25,000 a year would have to pay $349-per-month. The amount would be split proportionally among each parent's salary.
For parents making roughly $50,000 combined, that monthly amount they would split for one child would be about $581, and for three children, $1132.
The House version caps out $1,942 for the amount split for one child, and $3,379 for three children between parents making a combined $180,000 a year.
The max in the Senate version is $3,864 for one child and $6,758 for three children if both parents make a combined $360,000 annually
On Saturday, Del. Tony McConkey (R-Anne Arundel) blasted the House version, saying that despite many better alternatives the House Judiciary Committee agreed to a restrictive "one-size-fits-all" approach.
"I want more realism in these guidelines," McConkey said. "Not every situation is the same."
Del. Jeffrey D. Waldstreicher, (D-Montgomery), is the primary sponsor of the House version that passed on Saturday. The measure passed 114-25.
"It's a good bill," he said. "We did a lot of work on it."
Maryland's current guidelines were enacted in 1989 in response to a federal mandate. The state is one of nine that has not updated its child support schedule since then, according to Maryland legislative analysts.
While Maryland ranks first in the nation in median income, the state's nonpartisan fiscal analyst says the amount recommended for child support ranks 41st among all states.
Aaron C. Davis
March 27, 2010; 9:07 PM ET
Categories: Aaron C. Davis
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