When parents divorce, the Maryland courts calculate child support based on each parent's income and the child's needs. Some parents think they can avoid paying child support each month if they overpay some months. However, Maryland child support does not work like other credit obligations. You must pay your child support each month or face legal consequences for non-payment, regardless of whether you overpaid the month before.
Gifts that you give directly to the child or the child's other parent do not count as child support in Maryland. For example, if you buy clothes for your child on top of your regular child support payment, the clothes don't count as an overpayment of child support. You must pay your child support through the Office of Child Support Enforcement each month regardless of how much extra support you give directly to your child during the month.
If you fall behind on your child support payments, the state of Maryland may seize your tax refund and apply it to your past-due child support balance. If your tax refund is greater than the entire amount of back child support you owe, Maryland will return the excess portion of your tax refund. You cannot apply overpayments of this nature to your next child support payment, as of July 2011.
In the majority of Maryland cases, the non-custodial parent pays child support via income withholding: Her employer deducts a portion of her pay each period and sends it directly to the Office of Child Support Enforcement. Thus, you will not overpay your child support because your employer deducts exactly the amount that the court order requires you to pay. It may take a few pay cycles before the automatic deduction begins, so if you have just been ordered to pay child support, you should pay it directly to the Office of Child Support Enforcement until your pay stub lists a deduction for child support.
Modification of Child Support
In Maryland, you should not overpay child support during wealthy periods in the hopes that you won't have to pay if you have a financial problem in the future. Instead, as soon as you encounter difficulty making ends meet, you should contact the Office of Child Support Enforcement to apply for a modification of the support order. If the Office of Child Support Enforcement is already representing the child's other parent, it may refer you to a private attorney instead. You must show proof of your changed financial circumstances to get a new court order for a lower amount of child support. You would then continue paying the old amount until the court agrees to the modification.
Jack Ori has been a writer since 2009. He has worked with clients in the legal, financial and nonprofit industries, as well as contributed self-help articles to various publications.