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Child Custody, Support, Visitation and Use of the Marital Home
In a case involving custody and visitation, the court usually requires the parties to participate in at least two mediation sessions.
There is no presumption in favor of awarding custody to either spouse, and the court has wide discretion to act in the best interests of the children. Liberal visitation to the non-custodial parent is the norm.
Maryland has enacted statutory Child Support Guidelines, which are principally based upon the number of children, the income of each parent, work-related child care expenses and medical expenses. Although the court has the power to depart from the guidelines in an appropriate case, it is required to make a determination of the statutory amount and to explain the reasons for the departure.
In order to promote stability for the children, Maryland courts may award the use and possession of the family home to the custodial parent for a period of up to three years from the final decree. The court may divide the cost of maintaining the home between the parties based upon the equities of the case.
Under Maryland law, child support is determined based on the Income Shares Model. Therefore the monthly support amount for the child is proportionally shared between the two parents based on their incomes, past W-2s, and child support worksheets. One parent will then pay the other parent his or her share of child support. Considerations will also be made for existing debt, property settlement, mortgages, other children or any other financial considerations.
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