Maryland Divorce Laws

Family Law

§ 1-203 FAM. LAW. Alimony; annulment; divorce.

(a) Injunctive power of court. - In an action for alimony, annulment, or divorce, an equity court:

(1) has all the powers of a court of equity; and

(2) may issue an injunction to protect any party to the action from physical harm or harassment.

(b) Lis pendens. - Unless the court expressly provides otherwise, the filing of an action for an annulment, a limited divorce, or an absolute divorce does not constitute lis pendens with respect to any property of a party.

(c) Oral testimony required for final decree. - In an action for alimony, annulment, or divorce, a final decree may not be entered except on oral testimony by the plaintiff in a hearing before an examiner or a master or in open court.

(d) Scope of alimony hearing and determination. - An equity court shall hear and determine a case for alimony in as full and ample a manner as a case for alimony could be heard and determined by the Ecclesiastical Courts of England.

TITLE 7. Provisions Regarding Divorce.

§ 7-101 FAM. LAW. Residence requirement; corroboration of testimony.

(a) Residence requirement. - If the grounds for the divorce occurred outside of this State, a party may not apply for a divorce unless 1 of the parties has resided in this State for at least 1 year before the application is filed.

(b) Corroboration of testimony required. - A court may not enter a decree of divorce on the uncorroborated testimony of the party who is seeking the divorce.

§ 7-102 FAM. LAW. Provisions for limited divorce.

(a) Grounds for limited divorce. - The court may decree a limited divorce on the following grounds:

(1) cruelty of treatment of the complaining party or of a minor child of the complaining party;

(2) excessively vicious conduct to the complaining party or to a minor child of the complaining party;

(3) desertion; or

(4) voluntary separation, if:

(i) the parties are living separate and apart without cohabitation; and

(ii) there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation.

(b) Attempts at reconciliation. - As a condition precedent to granting a decree of limited divorce, the court may:

(1) require the parties to participate in good faith in the efforts to achieve reconciliation that the court prescribes; and

(2) assess the costs of any efforts to achieve reconciliation that the court prescribes.

(c) Time during which decree is effective. - The court may decree a divorce under this section for a limited time or for an indefinite time.

(d) Revocation of decree. - The court that granted a decree of limited divorce may revoke the decree at any time on the joint application of the parties.

(e) Decree of limited divorce on prayer for absolute divorce. - If an absolute divorce is prayed and the evidence is sufficient to entitle the parties to a limited divorce, but not to an absolute divorce, the court may decree a limited divorce.

§ 7-103 FAM. LAW. Provisions for absolute divorce.

(a) Grounds for absolute divorce. - The court may decree an absolute divorce on the following grounds:

(1) adultery;

(2) desertion, if:

(i) the desertion has continued for 12 months without interruption before the filing of the application for divorce;

(ii) the desertion is deliberate and final; and

(iii) there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation;

(3) voluntary separation, if

(i) the parties voluntarily have lived separate and apart without cohabitation for 12 months without interruption before the filing of the application for divorce; and

(ii) there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation;

(4) conviction of a felony or misdemeanor in any state or in any court of the United States if before the filing of the application for divorce the defendant has:

(i) been sentenced to serve at least 3 years or an indeterminate sentence in a penal institution; and

(ii) served 12 months of the sentence;

(5) 2-year separation, when the parties have lived separate and apart without cohabitation for 2 years without interruption before the filing of the application for divorce;

(6) insanity if

(i) the insane spouse has been confined in a mental institution, hospital, or other similar institution for at least 3 years before the filing of the application for divorce;

(ii) the court determines from the testimony of at least 2 physicians who are competent in psychiatry that the insanity is incurable and there is no hope of recovery; and

(iii) 1 of the parties has been a resident of this State for at least 2 years before the filing of the application for divorce;

(7) cruelty of treatment toward the complaining party or a minor child of the complaining party, if there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation; or

(8) excessively vicious conduct toward the complaining party or a minor child of the complaining party, if there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation.

(b) Recrimination. - Recrimination is not a bar to either party obtaining an absolute divorce on the grounds set forth in subsection (a)(1) through (8) of this section, but is a factor to be considered by the court in a case involving the ground of adultery.

(c) Res judicata. - Res judicata with respect to another ground under this section is not a bar to either party obtaining an absolute divorce on the ground of 2-year separation.

(d) Condonation. - Condonation is not an absolute bar to a decree of an absolute divorce on the ground of adultery, but is a factor to be considered by the court in determining whether the divorce should be decreed.

(e) Effect of limited divorce on application for absolute divorce. - (1) A court may decree an absolute divorce even if a party has obtained a limited divorce.

(2) If a party obtained a limited divorce on the ground of desertion that at the time of the decree did not meet the requirements of subsection (a)(2) of this section, the party may obtain an absolute divorce on the ground of desertion when the desertion meets the requirements of subsection (a)(2) of this section.

§ 7-103.1 FAM. LAW. Effect of orders under Title 4, Subtitle 5 of article.

(a) Inadmissible evidence. - An order or decision in a proceeding under Title 4, Subtitle 5 of this article is inadmissible as evidence in a proceeding under this title.

(b) Compliance not grounds. - In a proceeding under this title, a court may not consider compliance with an order issued under Title 4, Subtitle 5 of this article as grounds for granting a decree of limited or absolute divorce.

§ 7-103.2 FAM. LAW. Educational seminar on child support, custody, visitation.

(a) Applicability. - This section applies to an action for divorce in which issues of child support, custody, or visitation are raised.

(b) Participation by all parties. - Prior to granting a decree of divorce, the court may require all parties to participate in an educational seminar that is designed to educate parents about the effects, and to minimize the disruption, of a divorce on the lives of children.

(c) Rules. - (1) The court of appeals shall adopt rules to implement this section.

(2) Rules adopted in accordance with this subsection shall:

(i) provide for the content of the seminar required under this section;

(ii) require successful completion of the seminar by all parties to the action within a certain time after the service of the original complaint upon the defendant;

(iii) establish sanctions for failure to successfully complete the seminar required under this section;

(iv) for purposes of funding the cost of the seminar, establish a fee that:

1. shall be assessed as costs; and

2. may be waived under appropriate circumstances; and

(v) establish criteria for exemption from the requirement that the parties participate in an educational seminar, except that a court may not exempt the parties from attending the educational seminar if there is any evidence of domestic violence or child abuse or neglect.

(d) Contract to provide seminar. - The seminar required under this section may be provided under contract with a public or private agency.

(e) Seminar proceedings inadmissible in divorce proceedings. - Unless the parties stipulate otherwise, any information about a party, including statements or reports, obtained from an educational seminar required by this section, is not admissible during the action for divorce of that party.

(f) Attendance. - This section may not be construed to require the parties to an action for divorce to attend the educational seminar together.

§ 7-104 FAM. LAW. Offer or refusal to reconcile: effects.

(a) Offer or attempt. - In and of itself neither of the following is a defense to or a bar to a divorce:

(1) an unaccepted offer of reconciliation by a spouse; or

(2) a rejected attempt at reconciliation by a spouse.

(b) Refusal or rejection. - In and of itself neither of the following is a defense to, a bar to, or a ground for a divorce:

(1) the refusal of a spouse to accept an offer of reconciliation made by the other spouse; or

(2) the rejection by a spouse of an attempt at reconciliation made by the other spouse.

§ 7-105 FAM. LAW. Change of name; conditions.

In granting a decree of absolute divorce, the court shall change the name of a party to either the name given the party at birth or any other former name the party wishes to use if:

(1) the party took a new name on marriage and no longer wishes to use it;

(2) the party asks for the change of name; and

(3) the purpose of the party is not illegal, fraudulent, or immoral.

§ 7-106 FAM. LAW. Clerk to record divorce decrees.

The clerk of the circuit court for each county shall record all final decrees in proceedings for divorce in that county and keep the record readily accessible in some permanent form.

§ 7-107 FAM. LAW. Award of expenses.

(a) Definition. - In this section, "reasonable and necessary expense" includes:

(1) suit money;

(2) counsel fees; and

(3) costs.

(b) Award authorized. - At any point in a proceeding under this title, the court may order either party to pay to the other party an amount for the reasonable and necessary expense of prosecuting or defending the proceeding.

(c) Considerations by court. - Before ordering the payment, the court shall consider:

(1) the financial resources and financial needs of both parties; and

(2) whether there was substantial justification for prosecuting or defending the proceeding.

(d) Lack of substantial justification and good cause. - Upon a finding by the court that there was an absence of substantial justification of a party for prosecuting or defending the proceeding, and absent a finding by the court of good cause to the contrary, the court shall award to the other party the reasonable and necessary expense of prosecuting or defending the proceeding.

(e) Reimbursement. - The court may award reimbursement for any reasonable and necessary expense that has previously been paid.

(f) Counsel fees. - As to any amount awarded for counsel fees, the court may:

(1) order that the amount awarded be paid directly to the lawyer; and

(2) enter judgment in favor of the lawyer.

TITLE 8. Deeds, Agreements, Settlements Between Spouses; Disposition of Property in Divorce, Annulment.

§ 8-101 FAM. LAW. Valid deeds, agreements, settlements.

(a) Deed or agreement. - A husband and wife may make a valid and enforceable deed or agreement that relates to alimony, support, property rights, or personal rights.

(b) Settlement. - A husband and wife may make a valid and enforceable settlement of alimony, support, property rights, or personal rights.

§ 8-102 FAM. LAW. Deed or agreement between spouses not bar to divorce.

A deed or agreement between spouses is not a bar to an action for absolute or limited divorce, regardless of whether the deed or agreement was executed:

(1) when the parties were living together or apart; or

(2) before, after, or while there was a ground for divorce.

§ 8-103 FAM. LAW. Provisions liable to modification: care, custody of children; spousal support.

(a) Provision concerning children. - The court may modify any provision of a deed, agreement, or settlement with respect to the care, custody, education, or support of any minor child of the spouses, if the modification would be in the best interests of the child.

(b) Exception for provision concerning support of spouse. - The court may modify any provision of a deed, agreement, or settlement with respect to spousal support executed on or after January 1, 1976, regardless of how the provision is stated, unless there is a provision that specifically states that the provisions with respect to spousal support are not subject to any court modification.

(c) Certain exceptions for provision concerning alimony or support of spouse. - The court may modify any provision of a deed, agreement, or settlement with respect to alimony or spousal support executed on or after April 13, 1976, regardless of how the provision is stated, unless there is:

(1) an express waiver of alimony or spousal support; or

(2) a provision that specifically states that the provisions with respect to alimony or spousal support are not subject to any court modification.

§ 8-104 FAM. LAW. Voluntary separation agreement as corroboration of plaintiff's testimony.

In a suit for absolute divorce on the grounds of voluntary separation, a separation agreement is full corroboration of the plaintiff's testimony that the separation was voluntary if the agreement:

(1) states that the spouses voluntarily agreed to separate; and

(2) is executed under oath before the application for divorce is filed.

§ 8-105 FAM. LAW. Enforcement by power of contempt; modification.

(a) Enforcement by power of contempt. - (1) The court may enforce by power of contempt the provisions of a deed, agreement, or settlement that are merged into a divorce decree.

(2) The court may enforce by power of contempt or as an independent contract not superseded by the divorce decree the provisions of a deed, agreement, or settlement that contain language that the deed, agreement, or settlement is incorporated but not merged into a divorce decree.

(b) Modification. - The court may modify any provision of a deed, agreement, or settlement that is:

(1) incorporated, whether or not merged, into a divorce decree; and

(2) subject to modification under § 8-103 of this subtitle.

§ 8-201 FAM. LAW. Definitions.

(a) In general. - In this subtitle the following words have the meanings indicated.

(b) Child. - "Child" means a child:

(1) under the age of 18 years; or

(2) 18 years old or older and dependent on a parent because of mental or physical infirmity.

(c) Family home. - (1) "Family home" means the property in this State that:

(i) was used as the principal residence of the parties when they lived together;

(ii) is owned or leased by 1 or both of the parties at the time of the proceeding; and

(iii) is being used or will be used as a principal residence by 1 or both of the parties and a child.

(2) "Family home" does not include property:

(i) acquired before the marriage;

(ii) acquired by inheritance or gift from a third party; or

(iii) excluded by valid agreement.

(d) Family use personal property. - (1) "Family use personal property" means tangible personal property:

(i) acquired during the marriage;

(ii) owned by 1 or both of the parties; and

(iii) used primarily for family purposes.

(2) "Family use personal property" includes:

(i) motor vehicles;

(ii) furniture;

(iii) furnishings; and

(iv) household appliances.

(3) "Family use personal property" does not include property:

(i) acquired by inheritance or gift from a third party; or

(ii) excluded by valid agreement.

(e) Marital property. - (1) "Marital property" means the property, however titled, acquired by 1 or both parties during the marriage.

(2) "Marital property" includes any interest in real property held by the parties as tenants by the entirety unless the real property is excluded by valid agreement.

(3) Except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection, "marital property" does not include property:

(i) acquired before the marriage;

(ii) acquired by inheritance or gift from a third party;

(iii) excluded by valid agreement; or

(iv) directly traceable to any of these sources.

§ 8-202 FAM. LAW. Determination of ownership of property: decree; order of partition or sale.

(a) Determination of ownership. - (1) When the court grants an annulment or a limited or absolute divorce, the court may resolve any dispute between the parties with respect to the ownership of personal property.

(2) When the court grants an annulment or an absolute divorce, the court may resolve any dispute between the parties with respect to the ownership of real property.

(3) Except as provided in § 8-205 of this subtitle, the court may not transfer the ownership of personal or real property from 1 party to the other.

(b) Decree and order. - When the court determines the ownership of personal or real property, the court may:

(1) grant a decree that states what the ownership interest of each party is; and

(2) as to any property owned by both of the parties, order a partition or a sale instead of partition and a division of the proceeds.

§ 8-203 FAM. LAW. Determination of marital property; time of action.

(a) Time of court action. - In a proceeding for an annulment or an absolute divorce, if there is a dispute as to whether certain property is marital property, the court shall determine which property is marital property:

(1) when the court grants an annulment or an absolute divorce;

(2) within 90 days after the court grants an annulment or divorce, if the court expressly reserves in the annulment or divorce decree the power to make the determination; or

(3) after the 90-day period if:

(i) the court expressly reserves in the annulment or divorce decree the power to make the determination;

(ii) during the 90-day period, the court extends the time for making the determination; and

(iii) the parties consent to the extension.

(b) Consideration of military pension. - In this subtitle, a military pension shall be considered in the same manner as any other pension or retirement benefit.

(c) Exclusion of family home and family use personal property. - Repealed.

§ 8-204 FAM. LAW. Determination of value of marital property.

(a) Determination by court. - Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, the court shall determine the value of all marital property.

(b) Retirement benefits. - (1) The court need not determine the value of a pension, retirement, profit sharing, or deferred compensation plan, unless a party has given notice in accordance with paragraph (2) of this subsection that the party objects to a distribution of retirement benefits on an "if, as, and when" basis.

(2) If a party objects to the distribution of retirement benefits on an "if, as, and when" basis and intends to present evidence of the value of the benefits, the party shall give written notice at least 60 days before the date the joint statement of the parties concerning marital and nonmarital property is required to be filed under the Maryland Rules. If notice is not given in accordance with this paragraph, any objection to a distribution on an "if, as, and when" basis shall be deemed to be waived unless good cause is shown.

§ 8-205 FAM. LAW. Award or transfer of martial property; determination of amount and method of payment or transfer.

(a) Grant of award. - (1) Subject to the provisions of subsection (b) of this section, after the court determines which property is marital property, and the value of the marital property, the court may transfer ownership of an interest in property described in paragraph (2) of this subsection, grant a monetary award, or both, as an adjustment of the equities and rights of the parties concerning marital property, whether or not alimony is awarded.

(2) The court may transfer ownership of an interest in:

(i) a pension, retirement, profit sharing, or deferred compensation plan, from one party to either or both parties; and

(ii) subject to the consent of any lienholders, family use personal property, from one or both parties to either or both parties.

(b) Factors in determining amount and method of payment or terms of transfer. - The court shall determine the amount and the method of payment of a monetary award, or the terms of the transfer of the interest in property described in subsection (a)(2) of this section, or both, after considering each of the following factors:

(1) the contributions, monetary and nonmonetary, of each party to the well-being of the family;

(2) the value of all property interests of each party;

(3) the economic circumstances of each party at the time the award is to be made;

(4) the circumstances that contributed to the estrangement of the parties;

(5) the duration of the marriage;

(6) the age of each party;

(7) the physical and mental condition of each party;

(8) how and when specific marital property or interest in property described in subsection (a)(2) of this section, was acquired, including the effort expended by each party in accumulating the marital property or the interest in property described in subsection (a)(2) of this section, or both;

(9) the contribution by either party of property described in § 8-201(e)(3) of this subtitle to the acquisition of real property held by the parties as tenants by the entirety;

(10) any award of alimony and any award or other provision that the court has made with respect to family use personal property or the family home; and

(11) any other factor that the court considers necessary or appropriate to consider in order to arrive at a fair and equitable monetary award or transfer of an interest in property described in subsection (a)(2) of this section, or both.

(c) Award reduced to judgment. - The court may reduce to a judgment any monetary award made under this section, to the extent that any part of the award is due and owing.

§ 8-206 FAM. LAW. Policy on family home, family use personal property with respect to minor children.

The court shall exercise its powers under §§ 8-207 through 8-213 of this subtitle:

(1) to enable any child of the family to continue to live in the environment and community that are familiar to the child; and

(2) to provide for the continued occupancy of the family home and possession and use of family use personal property by a party with custody of a child who has a need to live in that home.

§ 8-207 FAM. LAW. Determination of family home, family use personal property.

(a) Determination. - In a proceeding for an annulment or a limited or absolute divorce, the court may determine which property is the family home and family use personal property:

(1) before the court grants an annulment or a limited or absolute divorce; or

(2) when the court grants an annulment or a limited or absolute divorce.

(b) Modification. - A preliminary or pendente lite determination is subject to modification during the pendency of the proceeding.

(c) Certain property to be treated as marital property. - If the court determines that there is no need for an order or decree issued under this section regarding the family home or all or any part of family use personal property, the property shall be treated as marital property if it otherwise would have been treated as marital property.

§ 8-208 FAM. LAW. Award of family home or family use personal property; required considerations; allocation of financial responsibilities.

(a) Award of possession and use. - (1) When the court grants an annulment or a limited or absolute divorce, regardless of how the family home or family use personal property is titled, owned, or leased, the court may:

(i) decide that 1 of the parties shall have the sole possession and use of that property; or

(ii) divide the possession and use of the property between the parties.

(2) The court may exercise these powers pendente lite.

(b) Required considerations. - In awarding the possession and use of the family home and family use personal property, the court shall consider each of the following factors:

(1) the best interests of any child;

(2) the interest of each party in continuing:

(i) to use the family use personal property or any part of it, or to occupy or use the family home or any part of it as a dwelling place; or

(ii) to use the family use personal property or any part of it, or to occupy or use the family home or any part of it for the production of income; and

(3) any hardship imposed on the party whose interest in the family home or family use personal property is infringed on by an order issued under §§ 8-207 through 8-213 of this subtitle.

(c) Allocation of financial responsibilities. - The court may order or decree that either or both of the parties pay all or any part of:

(1) any mortgage payments or rent;

(2) any indebtedness that is related to the property;

(3) the cost of maintenance, insurance, assessments, and taxes; or

(4) any similar expenses in connection with the property.

(d) Effect of award of sole possession and use. - An order giving a party the sole possession and use of the family home under subsection (a) of this section does not affect the right of the other party to claim the family home as that party's principal residence for tax purposes.

§ 8-209 FAM. LAW. Order or decree governing family home, family use personal property, subject to power of court.

In a temporary or final order or decree, each provision that concerns the family home or family use personal property is subject, as the circumstances and justice may require, to:

(1) the terms and conditions that the court sets;

(2) the time limits that the court sets, subject to § 8-210 of this subtitle; and

(3) modification or dissolution by the court.

§ 8-210 FAM. LAW. Termination of order or decree governing family home or family use personal property.

(a) Time limitation. - (1) In any order or decree, or any modification of an order or decree, a provision that concerns the family home or family use personal property shall terminate no later than 3 years after the date on which the court grants an annulment or a limited or absolute divorce.

(2) The 3-year limitation set out in paragraph (1) of this subsection applies to a limited divorce notwithstanding the subsequent granting of an absolute divorce.

(b) Remarriage of party with possession or use of property. - Subject to the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, in any order or decree, or any modification of an order or decree, a provision that concerns the family home or family use personal property shall terminate when the party with the possession or use of the property remarries.

(c) Treatment of property. - When a provision that concerns the family home or family use personal property terminates, the court shall treat the property as marital property if the property qualifies as marital property, and adjust the equities and rights of the parties concerning the property as set out in § 8-205 of this subtitle.

§ 8-211 FAM. LAW. Orders not considered evidence of constructive desertion.

An order, award, or decree under §§ 8-207 through 8-209 of this subtitle may not be considered as evidence of constructive desertion.

§ 8-212 FAM. LAW. Divorce or annulment granted by foreign jurisdiction.

If an annulment or a divorce has been granted by a court in a foreign jurisdiction, a court in this State may exercise the powers under this subtitle if:

(1) 1 of the parties was domiciled in this State when the foreign proceeding was commenced; and

(2) the court in the other jurisdiction lacked or did not exercise personal jurisdiction over the party domiciled in this State or jurisdiction over the property at issue.

§ 8-213 FAM. LAW. Enforcement under Maryland Rules; appeal available.

(a) Enforcement under Maryland Rules. - Any order, award, or decree entered under this subtitle may be enforced under the Maryland Rules.

(b) Appeal. - Any decree of annulment or of limited or absolute divorce in which the court reserves any power under this subtitle is final and subject to appeal in all other respects.

§ 8-214 FAM. LAW. Award of expenses.

(a) Definition. - In this section, "reasonable and necessary expense "includes:

(1) suit money;

(2) counsel fees; and

(3) costs.

(b) Award authorized. - At any point in a proceeding under this subtitle, the court may order either party to pay to the other party an amount for the reasonable and necessary expense of prosecuting or defending the proceeding.

(c) Considerations by court. - Before ordering the payment, the court shall consider:

(1) the financial resources and financial needs of both parties; and

(2) whether there was substantial justification for prosecuting or defending the proceeding.

(d) Lack of substantial justification and good cause. - Upon a finding by the court that there was an absence of substantial justification of a party for prosecuting or defending the proceeding, and absent a finding by the court of good cause to the contrary, the court shall award to the other party the reasonable and necessary expense of prosecuting or defending the proceeding.

(e) Reimbursement. - The court may award reimbursement for any reasonable and necessary expense that has previously been paid.

(f) Counsel fees. - As to any amount awarded for counsel fees, the court may:

(1) order that the amount awarded be paid directly to the lawyer; and

(2) enter judgment in favor of the lawyer.

TITLE 9. Provisions Regarding Custody and Visitation.

§ 9-101 FAM. LAW. Custody or visitation denied on basis of abuse or neglect.

(a) Determination by court. - In any custody or visitation proceeding, if the court has reasonable grounds to believe that a child has been abused or neglected by a party to the proceeding, the court shall determine whether abuse or neglect is likely to occur if custody or visitation rights are granted to the party.

(b) Specific finding required. - Unless the court specifically finds that there is no likelihood of further child abuse or neglect by the party, the court shall deny custody or visitation rights to that party, except that the court may approve a supervised visitation arrangement that assures the safety and the physiological, psychological, and emotional well-being of the child.

§ 9-101.1 FAM. LAW. Protection of other victims of abuse.

(a) Definition. - In this section, "abuse" has the meaning stated in § 4-501 of this article.

(b) Evidence of abuse against certain individuals. - In a custody or visitation proceeding, the court shall consider, when deciding custody or visitation issues, evidence of abuse by a party against:

(1) the other parent of the party's child;

(2) the party's spouse; or

(3) any child residing within the party's household, including a child other than the child who is the subject of the custody or visitation proceeding.

(c) Protection of child and victim. - If the court finds that a party has committed abuse against the other parent of the party's child, the party's spouse, or any child residing within the party's household, the court shall make arrangements for custody or visitation that best protect:

(1) the child who is the subject of the proceeding; and

(2) the victim of the abuse.

§ 9-102 FAM. LAW. Visitation rights of grandparents.

An equity court may:

(1) consider a petition for reasonable visitation of a grandchild by a grandparent; and

(2) if the court finds it to be in the best interests of the child, grant visitation rights to the grandparent.

§ 9-103 FAM. LAW. Child's petition to change custody.

(a) Petition by child. - A child who is 16 years old or older and who is subject to a custody order or decree may file a petition to change custody.

(b) Guardian or next friend not required. - A petitioner under this section may file the proceeding in the petitioner's own name and need not proceed by guardian or next friend.

(c) Hearing required; amendment of custody order or decree. - Notwithstanding any other provision of this article, if a petitioner under this section petitions a court to amend a custody order or decree, the court:

(1) shall hold a hearing; and

(2) may amend the order or decree and place the child in the custody of the parent designated by the child.

§ 9-104 FAM. LAW. Right of noncustodial parent to medical, dental, educational records.

Unless otherwise ordered by a court, access to medical, dental, and educational records concerning the child may not be denied to a parent because the parent does not have physical custody of the child.

§ 9-105 FAM. LAW. Remedies for unjustifiable denial or interference with visitation.

In any custody or visitation proceeding, if the court determines that a party to a custody or visitation order has unjustifiably denied or interfered with visitation granted by a custody or visitation order, the court may, in addition to any other remedy available to the court and in a manner consistent with the best interests of the child, take any or all of the following actions:

(1) order that the visitation be rescheduled;

(2) modify the custody or visitation order to require additional terms or conditions designed to ensure future compliance with the order; or

(3) assess costs or counsel fees against the party who has unjustifiably denied or interfered with visitation rights.

§ 9-106 FAM. LAW. Notification of relocation.

(a) In general. - (1) Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, in any custody or visitation proceeding the court may include as a condition of a custody or visitation order a requirement that either party provide advance written notice of at least 45 days to the court, the other party, or both, of the intent to relocate the permanent residence of the party or the child either within or outside the State.

(2) The court may prescribe the form and content of the notice requirement.

(3) If the court orders that notice be given to the other party, a mailing of the notice by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the last known address of the other party shall be deemed sufficient to comply with the notice requirement.

(b) Waiver. - On a showing that notice would expose the child or either party to abuse as defined in § 4-501 of this article or for any other good cause the court shall waive the notice required by this section.

(c) Violations - Defenses. - If either party is required to relocate in less than the 45-day period specified in the notice requirement, the court may consider as a defense to any action brought for a violation of such notice requirement that:

(1) relocation was necessary due to financial or other extenuating circumstances; and

(2) the required notice was given within a reasonable time after learning of the necessity to relocate.

(d) Same - Effect. - The court may consider any violation of the notice requirement as a factor in determining the merits of any subsequent proceeding involving custody or visitation.

§ 9-301 FAM. LAW. Definitions.

(a) In general. - In this subtitle the following words have the meanings indicated.

(b) Lawful custodian. - (1) "Lawful custodian" means a person who is authorized to have custody of and exercise control over a child who is under the age of 16 years.

(2) "Lawful custodian" includes a person who is authorized to have custody by an order of a court of competent jurisdiction in this State or any other state.

(c) Relative. - "Relative" means:

(1) a parent;

(2) a grandparent or other ancestor;

(3) a brother;

(4) a sister;

(5) an aunt;

(6) an uncle; or

(7) an individual who was a lawful custodian before the commission of an act that violates § 9-304 or § 9-305 of this subtitle.

§ 9-302 FAM. LAW. Jurisdiction over custody and visitation of child removed from State.

(a) Authority of court. - An equity court has jurisdiction over custody and visitation of a child who is removed from this State by a parent of the child, if:

(1) the parents are separated or divorced and this State was:

(i) the marital domicile of the parents; or

(ii) the domicile in which the marriage contract was last performed;

(2) 1 of the parents was a resident of this State when the child was removed and that parent continues to reside in this State; and

(3) the court obtains personal jurisdiction over the parent who removes the child.

(b) Effect of section. - This section does not affect any other basis of an equity court's jurisdiction over custody and visitation of a child.

§ 9-303 FAM. LAW. Conflict between jurisdictions as to lawful custodian.

(a) Scope of section. - This section applies if there is a conflict between a custody order of a court of this State and a custody order of a court of another state.

(b) Order of court of this State prevails. - Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, a custody order of a court of this State prevails over a custody order of a court of another state.

(c) Exception. - A custody order of a court of another state prevails over a custody order of a court of this State if the court in the other state passed its custody order:

(1) after the custody order was passed by a court of this State; and

(2) in proceedings in which the lawful custodian under the custody order of a court of this State:

(i) consented to the custody order passed by the court of the other state; or

(ii) participated personally as a party. § 9-304 FAM. LAW. Removal or detainment of child under age 16 within State: prohibitions.

If a child is under the age of 16 years, a relative who knows that another person is the lawful custodian of the child may not:

(1) abduct, take, or carry away the child from the lawful custodian to a place within this State;

(2) having acquired lawful possession of the child, detain the child within this State for more than 48 hours after the lawful custodian demands that the child be returned;

(3) harbor or hide the child within this State, knowing that possession of the child was obtained by another relative in violation of this section; or

(4) act as an accessory to an act prohibited by this section.

§ 9-305 FAM. LAW. Removal or detainment of child under age 16 outside of State: prohibitions.

(a) In general. - If a child is under the age of 16 years, a relative who knows that another person is the lawful custodian of the child may not:

(1) abduct, take, or carry away the child from the lawful custodian to a place in another state;

(2) having acquired lawful possession of the child, detain the child in another state for more than 48 hours after the lawful custodian demands that the child be returned;

(3) harbor or hide the child in another state knowing that possession of the child was obtained by another relative in violation of this section; or

(4) act as an accessory to an act prohibited by this section.

(b) Additional restrictions. - If a child is under the age of 16 years, a relative who knows that another person is the lawful custodian of the child may not:

(1) abduct, take, or carry away the child from the lawful custodian to a place that is outside of the United States or a territory of the United States or the District of Columbia or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico;

(2) having acquired lawful possession of the child, detain the child in a place that is outside of the United States or a territory of the United States or the District of Columbia or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico for more than 48 hours after the lawful custodian demands that the child be returned;

(3) harbor or hide the child in a place that is outside of the United States or a territory of the United States or the District of Columbia or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico knowing that possession of the child was obtained by another relative in violation of this section; or

(4) act as an accessory to an act prohibited by this section.

§ 9-306 FAM. LAW. Violation of §§ 9-304 and 9-305 on grounds of danger to child.

(a) Petition. - If an individual violates the provisions of § 9-304 or § 9-305 of this subtitle, the individual may file in an equity court a petition that:

(1) states that, at the time the act was done, a failure to do the act would have resulted in a clear and present danger to the health, safety, or welfare of the child; and

(2) seeks to revise, amend, or clarify the custody order.

(b) Defense. - If a petition is filed as provided in subsection (a) of this section within 96 hours of the act, a finding by the court that, at the time the act was done, a failure to do the act would have resulted in a clear and present danger to the health, safety, or welfare of the child is a complete defense to any action brought for a violation of § 9-304 or § 9-305 of this subtitle.

§ 9-307 FAM. LAW. Penalties for various violations.

(a) Violation of § 9-304. - A person who violates any provision of § 9-304 of this subtitle is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to a fine not exceeding $250 or imprisonment not exceeding 30 days.

(b) Violation of § 9-305(a) - Not more than 30 days. - If the child is out of the custody of the lawful custodian for not more than 30 days, a person who violates any provision of § 9-305 (a) of this subtitle is guilty of a felony and on conviction is subject to a fine not exceeding $250 or imprisonment not exceeding 30 days, or both.

(c) Same - More than 30 days. - If the child is out of the custody of the lawful custodian for more than 30 days, a person who violates any provision of § 9-305(a) of this subtitle is guilty of a felony and on conviction is subject to a fine not exceeding $1,000 or imprisonment not exceeding 1 year, or both.

(d) Violation of § 9-305(6). - A person who violates any Provision of § 9-305(b) of this subtitle is guilty of a felony and on conviction is subject to a fine not exceeding $5,000 or imprisonment not exceeding 3 years or both.

TITLE 10. Administration and Enforcement of Child Support.

§ 10-101 FAM. LAW. Definitions.

(a) In general. - In this title the following words have the meanings indicated.

(b) Administration. - "Administration" means the Child Support Enforcement Administration of the Department of Human Resources.

(c) Earnings. - "Earnings" includes:

(1) any form of periodic payment to an individual, including:

(i) an annuity;

(ii) a pension;

(iii) Social Security payments;

(iv) workers' compensation payments; and

(v) unemployment insurance benefits; and

(2) any commissions or fees paid in connection with the obligor's employment.

(d) Employer. - (1) "Employer" means any person who is paying earnings to an obligor.

(2) "Employer" includes a governmental entity.

(e) Local support enforcement office. - "Local support enforcement office" means 1 of the following that is responsible for support enforcement:

(1) a county agency; or

(2) a component of the circuit court for a county.

(f) Obligee. - (1) "Obligee" means any person who is entitled to receive support.

(2) "Obligee" includes a State.

(g) Obligor. - "Obligor" means an individual who is required to pay support under a court order.

(h) Support. - "Support" includes:

(1) child support;

(2) spousal support;

(3) support of destitute adult children; and

(4) support of destitute parents.

(i) Support enforcement agency. - "Support enforcement agency" means 1 of the following that receives support payments under a court order:

(1) the Administration; or

(2) a local support enforcement office.

§ 10-102 FAM. LAW. Limitation period for contempt proceeding.

A contempt proceeding for failure to make a payment of child or spousal support under a court order shall be brought within 3 years of the date that the payment of support became due.

§ 10-103 FAM. LAW. Other remedies not limited by subtitle.

This subtitle does not limit the authority of a State's Attorney, the Administration, or a local support enforcement office to use any other civil or criminal remedy to enforce a child or spousal support order.

§ 10-120 FAM. LAW. Definitions.

(a) Definitions. - In this Part III of this subtitle the following words have the meanings indicated.

(b) Earnings withholding notice. - "Earnings withholding notice" means a notice in a format prescribed by federal law issued by the Administration to an b- employer requiring the employer to deduct support payments from the earnings of an obligor.

(c) Earnings. - "Earnings withholding order" means an order in a format prescribed by federal law issued by a tribunal to an employer requiring the __ employer to deduct support payments from the earnings of an obligor.

(d) Support. - "Support" includes:

(1) child support;

(2) spousal support;

(3) nondifferentiated child and spousal support; and

(4) any medical support ordered by the court, including converted funds as defined in § 15-122.2 of the Health-General Article.

(e) Tribunal. - "Tribunal" has the meaning stated in § 10-301 (x) of this title.

§ 10-121 FAM. LAW. Withholding order on earnings; definition of support; statement required.

(a) Orders passed on or after July 1, 1985. - Any order under this Part III of this subtitle that is passed on or after July 1, 1985 shall constitute an immediate and continuing withholding order on all earnings of the obligor that are due on or. after the date of the support order.

(b) Orders passed before July 1, 1985. - (1) Any order under this Part III of this subtitle that is passed before July 1, 1985 shall become an immediate and continuing withholding order on all earnings of the obligor that are due on or after the date of the withholding order on the filing by the recipient or support enforcement agency of:

(i) a motion for a withholding order on the earnings of the obligor; and

(ii) a current support order.

(2) Notice of the filing of the motion and a statement that the support order constitutes an earnings withholding order subject to the conditions of this Part III of this subtitle shall be sent to the obligor by certified mail, return receipt requested and first class mail, at the last known home address or, if the home address is unknown, the place of employment of the obligor.

(c) Required statement. - Any support order or modification of support order not subject to immediate withholding under § 10-123 of this subtitle, that is passed on or after July 1, 1985, and any notice and statement issued under subsection (b)(2) of this section shall include a statement that:

(1) if the obligor accumulates support payments arrears amounting to more than 30 days of support, the obligor shall be subject to earnings withholding;

(2) the obligor is required to notify the court within 10 days of any change of address or employment so long as the support order is in effect; and

(3) failure to comply with item (2) of this subsection will subject the obligor to a penalty not to exceed $250 and may result in the obligor's not receiving notice of proceedings for earnings withholding.

§ 10-122 FAM. LAW. Amount of withholding.

(a) In general. - The amount of the earnings withholding shall:

(1) be enough to pay the support and any arrearage included in the payments required by the support order; and

(2) include any arrearage accrued since the support order.

(b) Apportionment of arrearage accrued since support order. - (1) (i) When arrearages under subsection (a)(2) of this section are part of an earnings withholding order or earnings withholding notice, the total arrearage withheld shall be in one lump-sum payment or apportioned over a period of time.

(ii) The amount of the arrearage withheld under subparagraph (i) of this paragraph shall be determined by the tribunal or, in a case in which the Administration is providing support services, by the Administration.

(2) The amount of arrears under subsection (a)(2) of this section apportioned to each payment shall be at least $1 but not more than 25% of the current support payment.

(c) Multiple notices. - If there is more than one earnings withholding order or earnings withholding notice against a single obligor, the Administration shall allocate amounts available for withholding, giving priority to current support, up to the limits imposed by the federal Consumer Credit Protection Act.

§ 10-129 FAM. LAW. Deductions from earnings.

(a) In general. - On receipt of a copy of an earnings withholding order or earnings withholding notice an employer shall, beginning with the next pay period after receipt of the earnings withholding order or earnings withholding notice:

(1) deduct the amount of the withholding from the obligor's earnings on a regular basis; and

(2) send the deducted net amount directly to the State disbursement unit within 7 days not including Saturday, Sunday. or a legal holiday after the day on which the earnings are paid to the obligor.

(b) Additional deductions. - An employer may deduct and retain from the obligor's wages an additional $2 for each deduction made under the earnings withholding order or earnings withholding notice.

(c) Prohibited acts. - An employer may not use the withholding as a basis for:

(1) reprisal against the obligor;

(2) dismissal of the obligor from employment; or

(3) refusal to hire or to promote the obligor.

(d) Civil action; employer's liability. - (1) Subject to the provisions of § 10-131 of this subtitle:

(i) the recipient or the support enforcement agency may bring a civil action against an employer who willfully violates subsection (a) of this section' and

(ii) an employer is liable for damages under this subsection in an amount equal to the amount of any withholding that the employer failed to deduct from the obligor's earnings or failed to send within the time required under subsection (a) of this section.

(2) The employer's liability under this subsection shall be in addition to any amounts paid directly or indirectly by the obligor.

§ 10-130 FAM. LAW. Employer's duties upon termination of obligor's employment.

Within 10 days after the employer receives notice of an obligor's decision to terminate employment or within 10 days after the termination, whichever occurs earlier, the employer shall:

(1) notify the court and the support enforcement agency; and

(2) forward to the court any available information as to the obligor's:

(i) Social Security number;

(ii) home address; and

(iii) new place of employment.

§ 10-131 FAM. LAW. Recipient's change of address.

(a) In general. - If the address of a recipient changes, the recipient, within a reasonable time, shall send the change of address by certified mail, return receipt requested to:

(1) the court;

(2) the obligor, at the obligor's last known address; and

(3)(i) each employer who has been served with a copy of the earnings withholding order; or

(ii) if the support enforcement agency receives the support payments, the support enforcement agency.

(b) Failure to give notice. - If, because of the failure of a recipient to give notice under this section, an employer or the support enforcement agency is unable for a 2-month period to deliver deductions under the earnings withholding order, the employer or agency:

(1) may not make further deductions;

(2) shall return each undeliverable payment to the obligor; and

(3) shall notify the court.

§ 10-132 FAM. LAW. Obligor's change of address or place of employment.

If the address or place of employment of the obligor changes, the obligor, within 10 days, shall send the change of address or new place of employment by certified mail, return receipt requested, to:

(1) the court; and

(2) the recipient, or if the support enforcement agency receives the support payments, the support enforcement agency.

§ 10-134 FAM. LAW. Termination of withholding: conditions.

(a) In general. - On motion of the obligor or the recipient that may be filed on a form which shall be prepared by the court, the court shall terminate the withholding if:

(1) the support obligation is terminated and the total arrearages are paid;

(2) all of the parties join in a motion for termination of the withholding; or

(3) within 60 days of the withholding order being served, the court finds:

(i) no history of child support arrearages; and

(ii) the arrearage which gave rise to the withholding order was the result of a bona fide medical emergency involving hospitalization of the obligor - or the death of the obligor's parents, spouse, children, or stepchildren.

(b) Employer notice. - The Administration shall notify the employer to terminate the withholding without the necessity of a further order when:

(1) the support obligation is fulfilled; and

(2) no arrearage exists.

§ 10-140 FAM. LAW. Unpaid child support constitutes lien on property of obligor.

(a) Scope of lien. - (1) Unpaid child support, due under an order requiring payments through a support enforcement agency, constitutes a lien in favor of the obligee on all real and personal property of the obligor.

(2) The Administration shall notify the obligor and obligee of any child support lien established under paragraph (1) of this subsection.

(b) Period of lien. - A child support lien established under subsection (a) of this section arises on the date of notice that the support is due and continues to the date on which the child support lien is:

(1) satisfied;

(2) released by the Administration because the child support lien is:

(i) unenforceable; or

(ii) uncollectible; or

(3) released by order of the court.

§ 10-142 FAM. LAW. Enforcement of child support lien.

(a) In general. - If a child support lien is not satisfied or released, the Administration may bring an action in a circuit court to enforce the lien.

(b) Parties. - The following persons shall be made parties to the proceeding:

(1) each person who has a recorded lien on the property that is sought to be subjected to the proceedings under this section; and

(2) each person who claims a right or interest in the property that is sought to be subjected to the proceedings under this section.

(c) Duty of court. - The court, acting without a jury, shall:

(1) adjudicate all matters involved in the proceedings; and

(2) determine the merits of all claims or liens.

(d) Order of sale. - If the claim of the obligee is established, the court may order:

(1) a sale of the property or rights to property; and

(2) a distribution of any proceeds of sale to the Administration or obligee.

§ 10-201 FAM. LAW. Nonsupport prohibited; penalties.

(a) In general. - A spouse may not willfully fail to provide for the support of the other spouse, without just cause.

(b) Penalties. - An individual who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to a fine not exceeding $100 or imprisonment not exceeding 3 years or both.

(c) Disposition of fine. - If an individual is convicted under this section, the court may order the individual to pay any fine wholly or partly to the spouse.

§ 10-202 FAM. LAW. Court's authority to order payment of support.

(a) Authority of court. - Before trial and with the written consent of the accused individual, or on conviction of the individual under § 10-201 of this subtitle, instead of or in addition to imposing a penalty under § 10-201 of this subtitle, the court may:

(1) order the individual to pay spousal support periodically in a certain amount for 3 years; and

(2) place the individual on probation on the individual's entering into a recognizance.

(b) Determination of amount. - In passing the order, the court shall consider the financial circumstances of the accused individual.

(c) Recipient. - The accused individual shall make the payments to the spouse directly or through the appropriate support enforcement agency.

(d) Modification. - The court may modify the order as circumstances require.

§ 10-203 FAM. LAW. Nonsupport, desertion of minor child prohibited; penalties.

(a) Failing to support minor child. - A parent may not willfully fail to provide for the support of his or her minor child.

(b) Deserting minor child. - A parent may not desert his or her minor child.

(c) Penalties. - An individual who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to a fine not exceeding $100 or imprisonment not exceeding 3 years or both.

§ 10-204 FAM. LAW. Authority of court to order payment of child support.

(a) Authority of court. - Before trial and with the written consent of the accused individual, or on conviction of the individual under § 10-203 of this subtitle, instead of or in addition to imposing a penalty under § 10-203 of this subtitle, the court may:

(1) order the individual to pay child support periodically in a certain amount for 3 years, or, if there is an agreement with respect to support of the child, order the individual to make payments as provided in the agreement; and

(2) place the individual on probation on the individual's entering into a recognizance.

(b) Determination of amount. - In passing the order, the court shall consider the financial circumstances of the accused individual.

(c) Recipient. - The accused individual shall make the payments:

(1) to the person who has custody of the minor child, through the appropriate support enforcement agency; or

(2) if there is an agreement with respect to support of the child, to the recipient designated in the agreement.

(d) Modification. - The court may modify the order as circumstances require.

§ 10-206 FAM. LAW. Order to pay child support constitutes lien on earnings.

(a) Establishment of lien. - An order to pay support under this subtitle is a lien on the earnings of the accused individual.

(b) Notice by support enforcement agency. - The court shall send a certified copy of each order that establishes a lien on earnings to the appropriate support enforcement agency. The support enforcement agency shall notify the individual's employer of the lien.

(c) Duties of employer. - On receipt of notice of the lien from the support enforcement agency, the employer shall:

(1) on a regular basis, deduct the amount of the lien from the individual's earnings; and

(2) send the deducted amount to the support enforcement agency.

TITLE 11. Provisions Regarding Alimony.

§ 11-101 FAM. LAW. General provisions for awarding alimony.

(a) Where available. - The court may award alimony:

(1) on a bill of complaint for alimony; or

(2) as a part of a decree that grants:

(i) an annulment;

(ii) a limited divorce; or

(iii) an absolute divorce.

(b) Award to either party. - The court may award alimony to either party.

(c) Effect of agreement. - If a final disposition as to alimony has been made in an agreement between the parties, the court is bound by that agreement as the agreement relates to alimony.

(d) Spouse a resident in related institution. - Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections (a), (b), and (c) of this section, the court may not award alimony on a bill of complaint for alimony to the spouse of a resident in a related institution as defined in § 19-301 of the Health-General Article, if the petitioner attempts to satisfy the separation grounds for divorce under §§ 7-102 and 7-103 of this article based on the spouse's residence in the related institution.

§ 11-102 FAM. LAW. Award of alimony pendente lite.

(a) In general. - Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, in a proceeding for divorce, alimony, or annulment of marriage, the court may award alimony pendente lite to either party.

(b) Spouse a resident in related institution. - The court may not award alimony pendente lite in a proceeding for alimony on a bill of complaint for alimony to the spouse of a resident in a related institution as defined in § 19-301 of the Health-General Article if the petitioner attempts to satisfy the separation grounds for divorce under §§ 7-102 and 7-103 of this article based on the spouse's residence in a related institution.

§ 11-103 FAM. LAW. Existence of ground for divorce: effect on award of alimony.

The existence of a ground for divorce against the party seeking alimony is not an automatic bar to the court awarding alimony to that party.

§ 11-104 FAM. LAW. Award of alimony against nonresident defendant holding property in State.

(a) In general. - In a proceeding for a limited or absolute divorce, the court may award to the plaintiff alimony as a part of a decree granting a divorce or alimony pendente lite, if:

(1) the bill of complaint asks for alimony and says that the defendant owns property in this State; and

(2) the court lacks or is unable to exercise personal jurisdiction over the defendant.

(b) Limit on award. - Any alimony or alimony pendente lite that is awarded under this section is payable only from the property referred to in the bill of complaint or the proceeds of that property. The court may pass any order regarding the property that is necessary to make the award effective.

§ 11-105 FAM. LAW. Award of alimony following decree in another jurisdiction.

If an annulment or a limited or absolute divorce has been granted by a court in another jurisdiction, a court in this State may award alimony to either party if:

(1) the court in the other jurisdiction lacked or did not exercise personal jurisdiction over the party seeking alimony; and

(2) the party seeking alimony was domiciled in this State at least 1 year before the annulment or divorce was granted.

§ 11-106 FAM. LAW. Amount and duration of payment of alimony.

(a) Court to make determination. - (1) The court shall determine the amount of and the period for an award of alimony.

(2) The court may award alimony for a period beginning from the filing of the pleading that requests alimony.

(3) At the conclusion of the period of the award of alimony, no further alimony shall accrue.

(b) Required considerations. - In making the determination, the court shall consider all the factors necessary for a fair and equitable award, including:

(1) the ability of the party seeking alimony to be wholly or partly self-supporting;

(2) the time necessary for the party seeking alimony to gain sufficient education or training to enable that party to find suitable employment;

(3) the standard of living that the parties established during their marriage;

(4) the duration of the marriage;

(5) the contributions, monetary and nonmonetary, of each party to the well-being of the family;

(6) the circumstances that contributed to the estrangement of the parties;

(7) the age of each party;

(8) the physical and mental condition of each party;

(9) the ability of the party from whom alimony is sought to meet that party's needs while meeting the needs of the party seeking alimony;

(10) any agreement between the parties;

(11) the financial needs and financial resources of each party, including:

(i) all income and assets, including property that does not produce income;

(ii) any award made under §§ 8-205 and 8-208 of this article;

(iii) the nature and amount of the financial obligations of each party; and

(iv) the right of each party to receive retirement benefits; and

(12) whether the award would cause a spouse who is a resident of a related institution as defined in § 19-301 of the Health-General Article and from whom alimony is sought to become eligible for medical assistance earlier than would otherwise occur.

(c) Award for indefinite period. - The court may award alimony for an indefinite period, if the court finds that:

(1) due to age, illness, infirmity, or disability, the party seeking alimony cannot reasonably be expected to make substantial progress toward becoming self-supporting; or

(2) even after the party seeking alimony will have made as much progress toward becoming self-supporting as can reasonably be expected, the respective standards of living of the parties will be unconscionably disparate.

§ 11-107 FAM. LAW. Extension of alimony period; modification of amount.

(a) Extension of period. - Subject to § 8-103 of this article, the court may extend the period for which alimony is awarded, if:

(1) circumstances arise during the period that would lead to a harsh and inequitable result without an extension; and

(2) the recipient petitions for an extension during the period.

(b) Modification of amount. - Subject to § 8-103 of this article and on the petition of either party, the court may modify the amount of alimony awarded as circumstances and justice require.

§ 11-108 FAM. LAW. Termination of alimony payment.

Unless the parties agree otherwise, alimony terminates:

(1) on the death of either party;

(2) on the marriage of the recipient; or

(3) if the court finds that termination is necessary to avoid a harsh and inequitable result.

§ 11-109 FAM. LAW. Payment of alimony to designee; duties of designee and parties to agreement.

(a) "Designee" defined. - In this section "designee" means:

(1) a support enforcement agency that is authorized by law to receive alimony payments for the recipient; or

(2) a person who is designated by the court as trustee or guardian to receive alimony payments for the recipient.

(b) Authority of court. - The court may order that alimony payments be made to a designee.

(c) Duties of designee. - A designee shall:

(1) send the payments to the recipient; and

(2) keep a record of:

(i) the amount of each payment;

(ii) the date that each payment must be made; and

(iii) the name and address of each party.

(d) Duties of parties. - Each party shall inform the designee of:

(1) any change of address; or

(2) any other fact that might affect the administration of the order.

(e) Failure to make payments. - If the party who is required to pay alimony fails to make a payment, the designee or the recipient may bring an enforcement proceeding.

(f) Representation by State's Attorney. - The State's Attorney may represent the designee in any enforcement proceeding that is brought under this section.

§ 11-110 FAM. LAW. Order to pay expenses.

(a) Definitions. - (1) In this section the following words have the meanings indicated.

(2) "Proceeding" includes a proceeding for:

(i) alimony;

(ii) alimony pendente lite;

(iii) modification of an award of alimony; and

(iv) enforcement of an award of alimony.

(3) "Reasonable and necessary expense" includes:

(i) suit money;

(ii) counsel fees; and

(iii) costs.

(b) Authority of court. - At any point in a proceeding under this title, the court may order either party to pay to the other party an amount for the reasonable and necessary expense of prosecuting or defending the proceeding.

(c) Required considerations. - Before ordering the payment, the court shall consider:

(1) the financial resources and financial needs of both parties; and

(2) whether there was substantial justification for prosecuting or defending the proceeding.

(d) Absence of substantial justification. - Upon a finding by the court that there was an absence of substantial justification of a party for prosecuting or defending the proceeding, and absent a finding by the court of good cause to the contrary, the court shall award to the other party the reasonable and necessary expense of prosecuting or defending the proceeding.

(e) Expenses paid previously. - The court may award reimbursement for any reasonable and necessary expense that has previously been paid.

(f) Counsel fees. - As to any amount awarded for counsel fees, the court may:

(1) order that the amount awarded be paid directly to the lawyer; and

(2) enter judgment in favor of the lawyer.

§ 11-111 FAM. LAW. Health insurance: allocation of additional costs; continuation or reinstatement of benefits.

(a) In general. - In accordance with the provisions of § 15-408 of the Insurance Article, the court may, either after a divorce is granted or pendente lite, allocate between the parties any additional costs of providing hospital, medical, or surgical benefits under a group contract or require continuation or reinstatement of such benefits.

(b) Consistency with federal law. - A court may, either after a divorce or pendente lite, allocate between the parties any expenses incurred for continuation of hospital, medical, or surgical benefits made available under a group contract in accordance with federal law.

§ 11-112 FAM. LAW. Actions in certain cases of insanity.

When granting a limited divorce, an absolute divorce, or an annulment, if the court finds from the testimony of 2 or more physicians competent in psychiatry that 1 of the parties is permanently and incurably insane with no hope of recovery, then, notwithstanding any agreement between the parties, the court may require a party to:

(1) pay alimony or support for the benefit of the insane party;

(2) pay a lump sum, based on the life expectancy of the insane party and the financial condition of the other party, together with the insane party's reasonable funeral expenses; or

(3) give bond to this State conditioned on the payment for:

(i) the care and support of the insane party for the rest of the insane party's life; and

(ii) the insane party's reasonable funeral expenses.

TITLE 12. Other Provisions Regarding Child Support.

§ 12-101 FAM. LAW. Award of child support authorized.

(a) Awarded from time of filing of pleading. - (1) Unless the court finds from the evidence that the amount of the award will produce an inequitable result, for an initial pleading that requests child support pendente lite, the court shall award child support for a period from the filing of the pleading that requests child support.

(2) Notwithstanding paragraph (1) of this subsection, unless the court finds from the evidence that the amount of the award will produce an inequitable result, for an initial pleading filed by a child support agency that requests child support, the court shall award child support for a period from the filing of the pleading that requests child support.

(3) For any other pleading that requests child support, the court may award child support for a period from the filing of the pleading that requests child support.

(b) Credit for payments. - The court shall give credit for payments that the court finds have been made during the period beginning from the filing of the pleading that requests child support.

(c) Notice requirement. - Any support order or modification of a support order that is passed on or after July 1, 1997 shall include a statement that:

(1) each party is required to notify the court and any support enforcement agency ordered to receive payments, within 10 days of any change of address or employment; and

(2) failure to comply with paragraph (1) of this subsection may result in a party not receiving notice of the initiation of a proceeding to modify or enforce a support order.

(d) Maternity expenses; medical support for child. - (1) The court may order either parent to pay all or part of.

(i) the mother's medical and hospital expenses for pregnancy, confinement, and recovery; and

(ii) medical support for the child, including neonatal expenses.

(2) Subject to the right of any party to subpoena a custodian of records at least 10 days before trial, any records relating to the cost of the mother's medical and hospital expenses for pregnancy, childbirth, and recovery and any neonatal expenses of the child shall be admissible in evidence without the presence of a custodian of record and shall constitute prima facie evidence of the amount of expenses incurred.

§ 12-102 FAM. LAW. Coverage of child under parent's health insurance.

(a) Definitions. - (1) In this section the following words have the meanings indicated.

(2) "Health insurance coverage" means any type of health care coverage under which medical care services can be provided to the child through an insurer.

(3) "Insurer" means:

(i) an insurer, a nonprofit health service organization, or a health maintenance organization operating in this State under a certificate of authority issued by the Maryland Insurance Commissioner;

(ii) an entity that provides a group health plan, as defined in § 607(1) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974; or

(iii) an entity offering a service benefit plan as defined by federal law.

(4) "Medical support notice" means a notice that is:

(i) in a format prescribed by federal law; and

(ii) issued by a child support agency to enforce the health insurance coverage provisions of a child support order.

(5) "Tribunal" has the meaning stated in § 10-301 of this article.

(b) Conditions allowing inclusion. - The court may include in any support order a provision requiring either parent to include the child in the parent's health insurance coverage if:

(1) the parent can obtain health insurance coverage through an employer or any form of group health insurance coverage; and

(2) the child can be included at a reasonable cost to the parent in that health insurance coverage.

(c) Relationship with earnings withholding order. - An order of a court requiring the provision of health insurance coverage for a child may be issued separate from or in conjunction with an earnings withholding order.

(d) Notification of employer. - (1) If a court orders a parent to provide health insurance coverage under this section, the parent under the order or the support enforcement agency shall send a copy of the order or medical support notice to the parent's employer by first-class mail, separate from or in conjunction with an earnings withholding order, as provided in § 10-123 of this article.

(2) Within 20 business days after the receipt of the order or medical support notice, the employer shall:

(i) send the appropriate part of the medical support notice to the employer's insurer;

(ii) if the employer determines that, based on reasons related to the employee's employment status, the employee's child is ineligible for health insurance coverage, complete the appropriate part of the medical support notice and return it to the issuing child support agency;

(iii) permit the parent, a child support enforcement agency, or the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to enroll the child in any health insurance coverage available to the parent without regard to any enrollment season restrictions;

(iv) provide a statement to the support enforcement agency and to both parents that the child:

1. has been enrolled in health insurance coverage;

2. will be enrolled in health insurance coverage and that the expected date of enrollment will be provided; or

3. cannot be enrolled in health insurance coverage; and

(v) provide information to both parents and to the support enforcement agency concerning the available health insurance coverage, including:

1. the employee's Social Security number;

2. the name, address, and telephone number of the insurer;

3. the policy number;

4. the group number;

5. the effective date of coverage; and

6. any schedule of benefits.

(e) Withholding upon receipt of order or notice. - On receipt of the order or medical support notice, the employer:

(1) if the employee's child is eligible for health insurance coverage, shall withhold from the employee's next earnings the amount of the employee contribution required to enroll the employee's child;

(2) if the employee's child is not currently eligible for health insurance coverage but will become eligible, shall withhold from the employee's earnings, at the earliest time the employee's child becomes eligible, the amount of the employee contribution required to enroll the employee's child; or

(3) if federal or State withholding limitations or prioritization prevent withholding from the employee's wages the amount required for enrollment, shall complete and send, to the issuing child support agency, the appropriate part of the medical support notice indicating the employee's income is insufficient for enrollment.

(f) Deductions of premiums. - (1) To the extent consistent with the federal Consumer Credit Protection Act, the employer shall deduct the premiums for health insurance coverage from the earnings of the employee on a regular and continuing basis and pay the premiums to the insurer.

(2) The employer shall send to the insurer the amount deducted from the employee's earnings each pay period within 10 business days after the day on which the earnings are paid to the employee.

(g) Elimination of coverage by employer. - An employer or the child's parents may not disenroll or eliminate coverage for the child in any manner unless:

(1) the employer is provided satisfactory written evidence that:

(i) the court order is no longer in effect; or

(ii) the child has been or will be enrolled under other reasonable health insurance coverage, with the coverage to take effect no later than the effective date of disenrollment;

(2) the employer has eliminated family health coverage for all of its employees; or

(3) the employer no longer employs the parent under whose name the child has been enrolled for coverage except to the extent that if the parent elects to exercise the provisions of the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) then coverage must be provided for the child consistent with the employer's plan relating to postemployment medical coverage for dependents.

(h) Notification; reissuance. - (1) If the health insurance coverage for the child terminates, the employer shall notify the other parent and, if a support enforcement agency is involved in the case, the support enforcement agency within 15 days of termination of the insurance.

(2) If, after a lapse in health insurance coverage, health insurance coverage becomes available to the employee for the child, the employer shall:

(i) enroll the child in health insurance coverage without regard to any enrollment season restrictions; and

(ii) within 15 days after health insurance coverage becomes available, provide notice to the support enforcement agency and the other parent of the enrollment.

(i) Willful violation by employer. - Subject to the provisions of this section, the parent or the support enforcement agency may bring a civil action against an employer who willfully violates the provisions of this section.

(j) Authority of Court to enter order concerning uninsured expenses not limited. - This section does not limit the authority of a court to enter, modify, or enforce an order requiring payment of uninsured health expenses, health care costs, or health insurance premiums.

(k) Prohibited acts against employee. - An employer may not use the existence of an order or a medical support notice requiring health insurance coverage as a basis for:

(1) reprisal against an employee;

(2) dismissal of an employee from employment; or

(3) refusal to hire a person or to promote an employee.

(l) Order binding on present and future employees. - An order entered under this section is binding on a present and future employer of the parent on whom a copy of this order is served.

§ 12-102.1 FAM. LAW. Notice of medical support.

(a) Issuance. - A medical support notice:

(1) may be issued by a child support agency in any child support case in which a circuit court of this State or tribunal of another jurisdiction has ordered a parent to include the child in the parent's health insurance coverage; and

(2) shall be issued by a child support agency in all child support cases enforced by the Administration in which a noncustodial parent's employer is known and a circuit court of this State or tribunal of another jurisdiction has ordered the parent to include the child in the parent's health insurance coverage, unless the court order or administrative order provides for alternative health insurance coverage.

(b) Format and contents. - A medical support notice shall:

(1) be in a format approved by the federal government;

(2) be a separate document that does not include any other orders or pleadings; and

(3) include the following information:

(i) a statement explaining the employer's obligations under this subtitle to withhold any employee contributions due in connection with health insurance coverage for the employee's child;

(ii) a statement explaining that, subject to further orders of the circuit court of this State or tribunal of another jurisdiction, the employer is required to withhold the appropriate amount on a regular and continuing basis beginning with the next pay period after receipt of the appropriate part of the medical support notice indicating the employee's child is eligible for enrollment;

(iii) an explanation of the application of the federal Consumer Credit Protection Act limits;

(iv) an explanation of the applicability of any prioritization required when available funds are insufficient for full withholding for both child support and medical support;

(v) any other information that the employer needs to comply with the medical support notice;

(vi) a statement that failure to comply with the medical support notice without good cause may subject the employer or carrier to civil penalties;

(vii) a statement of the employee's right to contest the withholding based on a mistake of fact; and

(viii) the name and telephone number of the appropriate person to contact at the Administration about the medical support notice.

(c) Priority. - Subject to federal law, a medical support notice has priority over any other lien or legal process, except for current support and support arrears withheld under an earnings withholding order or notice.

(d) Force and effect. - A medical support notice that is completed appropriately and satisfies the conditions of § 609(a) of Title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act shall:

(1) be treated as a qualified medical child support order by a carrier;

(2) have the same force and effect as a qualified medical child support order; and

(3) be enforceable in the same manner as a qualified medical child support order.

(e) Enforcement of notice from another state. - A medical support notice issued in another state shall be enforced in the same manner as a medical support notice issued in this State.

§ 12-102.3 FAM. LAW. Withholdings from an employee's earnings - administrative contests.

(a) Application and construction. - (1) This section applies to administrative contests of withholdings from an employee's earnings made by an employer for the purpose of complying with this title.

(2) Nothing in this section may be construed to limit an employee's right to judicially contest an underlying court order requiring the employee to provide health insurance coverage for the employee's child.

(b) Basis for administrative contests. - (1) An employee may only contest a withholding under this section based on a mistake of fact.

(2) The only issues that may be contested are:

(i) the identity of the employee;

(ii) whether there is an underlying court order requiring the employee to provide health insurance coverage for the employee's child;

(iii) that the amount of the withholding exceeds the limits of the federal Consumer Credit Protection Act; and

(iv) that the child for whom health insurance coverage is sought is emancipated.

(c) Written request. - An employee may contest a withholding by sending a written request for an investigation to the Administration within 15 days after receiving notice of the withholding from the employer.

(d) Investigation and notification of results. - If an employee requests an investigation, the Administration:

(1) shall conduct an investigation within 15 days after the request; and

(2) on completion of the investigation, shall notify the employee of the results of the investigation and the employee's right to appeal the decision of the Administration to the Office of Administrative Hearings.

(e) Appeal. - (1)(i) An employee may appeal the Administration's decision to the Office of Administrative Hearings by filing a written request for a hearing with the Administration or the Office of Administrative Hearings.

(ii) The request for a hearing shall be made:

1. on a form provided by the Administration; and

2. within 15 days after receiving the written results of the Administration's investigation.

(2) The only issues that may be contested in an administrative hearing are:

(i) the identity of the employee;

(ii) whether there is an underlying court order requiring the employee to provide health insurance coverage for the employee's child;

(iii) that the amount of the withholding exceeds the limits of the federal Consumer Credit Protection Act; and

(iv) that the child for whom health insurance coverage is sought is emancipated.

(3) An appeal under this section shall be conducted in accordance with Title 10, Subtitle 2 of the State Government Article.

(f) Rights of child pending contest. - Enrollment of the employee's child may not be stayed or terminated until the employer receives written notice that the contest is resolved in the employee's favor.

§ 12-103 FAM. LAW. Award of costs and fees.

(a) In general. - The court may award to either party the costs and counsel fees that are just and proper under all the circumstances in any case in which a person:

(1) applies for a decree or modification of a decree concerning the custody, support, or visitation of a child of the parties; or

(2) files any form of proceeding:

(i) to recover arrearages of child support;

(ii) to enforce a decree of child support; or

(iii) to enforce a decree of custody or visitation.

(b) Required considerations. - Before a court may award costs and counsel fees under this section, the court shall consider:

(1) the financial status of each party;

(2) the needs of each party; and

(3) whether there was substantial justification for bringing, maintaining, or defending the proceeding.

(c) Absence of substantial justification. - Upon a finding by the court that there was an absence of substantial justification of a party for prosecuting or defending the proceeding, and absent a finding by the court of good cause to the contrary, the court shall award to the other party costs and counsel fees.

§ 12-104 FAM. LAW. Modification of child support award: conditions.

(a) Prerequisites. - The court may modify a child support award subsequent to the filing of a motion for modification and upon a showing of a material change of circumstance.

(b) Retroactivity of modification. - The court may not retroactively modify a child support award prior to the date of the filing of the motion for modification.

Subtitle 2. Guidelines for Child Support.

§ 12-201 FAM. LAW. Definitions.

(a) In general. - In this subtitle the following words have the meanings indicated.

(b) Actual income. - (1) "Actual income" means income from any source.

(2) For income from self-employment, rent, royalties, proprietorship of a business, or joint ownership of a partnership or closely held corporation, "actual income" means gross receipts minus ordinary and necessary expenses required to produce income.

(3) "Actual income" includes:

(i) salaries;

(ii) wages;

(iii) commissions;

(iv) bonuses;

(v) dividend income;

(vi) pension income;

(vii) interest income;

(viii) trust income;

(ix) annuity income;

(x) Social Security benefits;

(xi) workers' compensation benefits;

(xii) unemployment insurance benefits;

(xiii) disability insurance benefits;

(xiv) for the obligor, any third party payment paid to or for a minor child as a result of the obligor's disability, retirement, or other compensable claim;

(xv) alimony or maintenance received; and

(xvi) expense reimbursements or in-kind payments received by a parent in the course of employment, self-employment, or operation of a business to the extent the reimbursements or payments reduce the parent's personal living expenses.

(4) Based on the circumstances of the case, the court may consider the following items as actual income:

(i) severance pay;

(ii) capital gains;

(iii) gifts; or

(iv) prizes.

(5) "Actual income" does not include benefits received from means-tested public assistance programs, including temporary cash assistance, Supplemental Security Income, food stamps, and transitional emergency, medical, and housing assistance.

(c) Adjusted actual income. - "Adjusted actual income" means actual income minus:

(1) preexisting reasonable child support obligations actually paid;

(2) except as provided in § 12-204(a)(2) of this subtitle, alimony or maintenance obligations actually paid; and

(3) the actual cost of providing health insurance coverage for a child for whom the parents are jointly and severally responsible.

(d) Adjusted basic child support obligation. - "Adjusted basic child support obligation" means an adjustment of the basic child support obligation for shared physical custody.

(e) Basic child support obligation. - "Basic child support obligation" means the base amount due for child support based on the combined adjusted actual incomes of both parents.

(f) Combined adjusted actual income. - "Combined adjusted actual income" means the combined monthly adjusted actual incomes of both parents.

(g) Extraordinary medical expenses. - (1) "Extraordinary medical expenses" means uninsured expenses over $100 for a single illness or condition.

(2) "Extraordinary medical expenses" includes uninsured, reasonable, and necessary costs for orthodontia, dental treatment, asthma treatment, physical therapy, treatment for any chronic health problem, and professional counseling or psychiatric therapy for diagnosed mental disorders.

(h) Income. - "Income" means:

(1) actual income of a parent, if the parent is employed to full capacity; or

(2) potential income of a parent, if the parent is voluntarily impoverished.

(i) Ordinary and necessary expenses. - "Ordinary and necessary expenses" does not include amounts allowable by the Internal Revenue Service for the accelerated component of depreciation expenses or investment tax credits or any other business expenses determined by the court to be inappropriate for determining actual income for purposes of calculating child support.

(j) Potential income. - "Potential income" means income attributed to a parent determined by the parent's employment potential and probable earnings level based on, but not limited to, recent work history, occupational qualifications, prevailing job opportunities, and earnings levels in the community.

(k) Shared physical custody. - (1) "Shared physical custody" means that each parent keeps the child or children overnight for more than 35% of the year and that both parents contribute to the expenses of the child or children in addition to the payment of child support.

(2) Subject to paragraph (1) of this subsection, the court may base a child support award on shared physical custody:

(i) solely on the amount of visitation awarded; and

(ii) regardless of whether joint custody has been granted.

§ 12-202 FAM. LAW. Guidelines to establish or modify child support.

(a) Use required; presumptions; departure from guidelines. - (1) Subject to the provisions of paragraph (2) of this subsection, in any proceeding to establish or modify child support, whether pendente lite or permanent, the court shall use the child support guidelines set forth in this subtitle.

(2)(i) There is a rebuttable presumption that the amount of child support which would result from the application of the child support guidelines set forth in this subtitle is the correct amount of child support to be awarded.

(ii) The presumption may be rebutted by evidence that the application of the guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate in a particular case.

(iii) In determining whether the application of the guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate in a particular case, the court may consider:

1. the terms of any existing separation or property settlement agreement or court order, including any provisions for payment of mortgages or marital debts, payment of college education expenses, the terms of any use and possession order or right to occupy to the family home under an agreement, any direct payments made for the benefit of the children required by agreement or order, or any other financial considerations set out in an existing separation or property settlement agreement or court order; and

2. the presence in the household of either parent of other children to whom that parent owes a duty of support and the expenses for whom that parent is directly contributing.

(iv) The presumption may not be rebutted solely on the basis of evidence of the presence in the household of either parent of other children to whom that parent owes a duty of support and the expenses for whom that parent is directly contributing.

(v) 1. If the court determines that the application of the guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate in a particular case, the court shall make a written finding or specific finding on the record stating the reasons for departing from the guidelines.

2. The court's finding shall state:

A. the amount of child support that would have been required under the guidelines;

B. how the order varies from the guidelines;

C. how the finding serves the best interests of the child; and

D. in cases in which items of value are conveyed instead of a portion of the support presumed under the guidelines, the estimated value of the items conveyed.

(b) Modification of orders. - (1) Subject to the provisions of paragraph (2) of this subsection, the adoption or revision of the guidelines set forth in this subtitle may be grounds for requesting a modification of a child support award based on a material change in circumstances.

(2) The adoption or revision of the guidelines set forth in this subtitle may not be grounds for requesting a modification of a child support award based on a material change in circumstances unless the use of the guidelines would result in a change in the award of 25% or more.

(c) Review of guidelines. - On or before January 1, 1993, and at least every 4 years after that date, the Child Support Enforcement Administration of the Department of Human Resources shall:

(1) review the guidelines set forth in this subtitle to ensure that the application of the guidelines results in the determination of appropriate child support award amounts; and

(2) report its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly, subject to § 2-1246 of the State Government Article.

§ 12-203 FAM. LAW. Forms used to apply guidelines; verification of income.

(a) Forms. - The Court of Appeals may issue standardized worksheet forms to be used in applying the child support guidelines set forth in this subtitle.

(b) Verification of income. - (1) Income statements of the parents shall be verified with documentation of both current and past actual income.

(2)(i) Except as provided in subparagraph (ii) of this paragraph, suitable documentation of actual income includes pay stubs, employer statements otherwise admissible under the rules of evidence, or receipts and expenses if self-employed, and copies of each parent's 3 most recent federal tax returns.

(ii) If a parent is self-employed or has received an increase or decrease in income of 20% or more in a 1-year period within the past 3 years, the court may require that parent to provide copies of federal tax returns for the 5 most recent years.

§ 12-204 FAM. LAW. Calculation of child support obligation.

(a) Schedule to be used; division among parents; maintenance and alimony awards. - (1) The basic child support obligation shall be determined in accordance with the schedule of basic child support obligations in subsection (e) of this section. The basic child support obligation shall be divided between the parents in proportion to their adjusted actual incomes.

(2)(i) If one or both parents have made a request for alimony or maintenance in the proceeding in which a child support award is sought, the court shall decide the issue and amount of alimony or maintenance before determining the child support obligation under these guidelines.

(ii) If the court awards alimony or maintenance, the amount of alimony or maintenance awarded shall be considered actual income for the recipient of the alimony or maintenance and shall be subtracted from the income of the payor of the alimony or maintenance under § 12-201(c)(2) of this subtitle before the court determines the amount of a child support award.

(b) Voluntarily impoverished parent. - (1) Except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection, if a parent is voluntarily impoverished, child support may be calculated based on a determination of potential income.

(2) A determination of potential income may not be made for a parent who:

(i) is unable to work because of a physical or mental disability; or

(ii) is caring for a child under the age of 2 years for whom the parents are jointly and severally responsible.

(c) Income between amounts in schedule. - If a combined adjusted actual income amount falls between amounts shown in the schedule, the basic child support amount shall be extrapolated to the next higher amount.

(d) Income above schedule levels. - If the combined adjusted actual income exceeds the highest level specified in the schedule in subsection (e) of this section, the court may use its discretion in setting the amount of child support.

(e) Basic child support obligation. - Schedule of basic child support obligations:

Combined
Adjusted 6 or
Actual 1 2 3 4 5 More
Income Child Children Children Children Children Children

0-850 $20 - $150 Per Month, Based
On Resources And Living
Expenses Of Obligor And Number
Of Children Due Support

900 184 273 276 279 282 285
950 191 296 304 307 311 314
1000 198 307 332 336 340 343
1050 205 318 360 364 368 372
1100 212 329 389 393 397 401
1150 219 339 416 421 425 430
1200 226 350 438 449 454 458
1250 233 360 451 477 482 487
1300 239 371 465 504 510 515
1350 246 382 478 532 538 544
1400 253 392 491 554 566 572
1450 260 403 504 569 594 601
1500 267 413 517 584 623 629
1550 274 424 531 599 651 658
1600 282 436 546 616 672 691
1650 288 447 559 631 688 725
1700 295 457 572 645 704 753
1750 302 467 585 660 720 770
1800 308 477 598 674 735 787
1850 315 488 611 689 751 804
1900 321 498 624 703 767 821
1950 327 506 634 715 780 835
2000 332 515 645 727 793 848
2050 338 523 655 739 806 862
2100 343 531 666 751 819 876
2150 349 540 677 763 832 890
2200 354 548 687 774 845 904
2250 359 557 698 786 858 918
2300 365 565 708 798 871 931
2350 370 573 719 810 884 945
2400 376 582 729 822 897 959
2450 381 590 740 833 909 973
2500 386 598 750 845 922 987
2550 392 607 761 857 935 1000
2600 397 615 771 869 948 1014
2650 403 624 782 881 961 1028
2700 408 632 793 893 974 1042
2750 413 640 803 904 987 1056
2800 419 649 814 916 1000 1070
2850 424 657 824 928 1013 1083
2900 429 666 835 940 1026 1097
2950 435 675 846 953 1039 1112
3000 441 684 857 965 1053 1126
3050 446 693 868 978 1067 1141
3100 452 702 879 990 1080 1156
3150 458 710 890 1003 1094 1170
3200 463 719 901 1015 1108 1185
3250 469 728 912 1028 1121 1199
3300 475 737 923 1040 1135 1214
3350 480 746 934 1053 1148 1228
3400 486 755 945 1065 1162 1243
3450 491 764 957 1078 1176 1258
3500 497 773 968 1090 1189 1272
3550 503 782 979 1103 1203 1287
3600 508 790 990 1115 1216 1301
3650 514 799 1001 1128 1230 1316
3700 520 808 1012 1140 1244 1330
3750 525 817 1023 1152 1257 1345
3800 532 827 1035 1166 1273 1361
3850 538 837 1048 1181 1288 1378
3900 544 847 1060 1195 1303 1394
3950 551 857 1073 1209 1319 1411
4000 557 867 1085 1223 1334 1427
4050 563 877 1097 1236 1349 1442
4100 569 886 1109 1249 1363 1458
4150 575 895 1120 1262 1377 1473
4200 581 905 1132 1275 1391 1488
4250 587 914 1143 1288 1405 1503
4300 593 923 1155 1301 1420 1518
4350 598 932 1166 1314 1434 1534
4400 604 942 1178 1327 1448 1549
4450 610 951 1189 1340 1462 1564
4500 616 960 1201 1353 1477 1579
4550 622 970 1212 1366 1491 1594
4600 628 979 1224 1379 1505 1610
4650 634 987 1234 1391 1518 1624
4700 639 995 1244 1403 1530 1637
4750 644 1003 1254 1414 1543 1650
4800 649 1011 1264 1425 1555 1663
4850 655 1019 1274 1437 1567 1676
4900 660 1027 1284 1448 1580 1689
4950 665 1035 1294 1459 1592 1703
5000 670 1043 1304 1470 1604 1716
5050 676 1051 1314 1482 1617 1729
5100 681 1059 1324 1493 1629 1742
5150 686 1067 1334 1504 1641 1755
5200 691 1075 1344 1515 1654 1768
5250 696 1083 1354 1527 1666 1781
5300 702 1091 1364 1538 1678 1794
5350 707 1099 1374 1549 1691 1807
5400 712 1107 1384 1561 1703 1821
5450 717 1115 1394 1572 1715 1834
5500 722 1123 1404 1583 1728 1847
5550 728 1131 1414 1594 1740 1860
5600 733 1139 1424 1606 1752 1873
5650 738 1147 1434 1617 1765 1886
5700 743 1155 1444 1628 1777 1899
5750 748 1163 1454 1639 1789 1912
5800 754 1171 1464 1651 1801 1926
5850 759 1179 1474 1662 1814 1939
5900 764 1187 1484 1673 1826 1952
5950 769 1195 1494 1685 1838 1965
6000 774 1203 1504 1696 1851 1978
6050 780 1211 1513 1707 1863 1991
6100 785 1219 1523 1718 1875 2004
6150 790 1227 1533 1730 1888 2017
6200 795 1235 1543 1741 1900 2030
6250 800 1243 1553 1752 1912 2044
6300 806 1251 1563 1763 1925 2057
6350 811 1259 1573 1775 1937 2070
6400 815 1266 1582 1785 1947 2081
6450 819 1271 1589 1793 1956 2091
6500 823 1277 1597 1801 1965 2100
6550 827 1283 1604 1809 1974 2110
6600 831 1289 1611 1817 1983 2119
6650 834 1294 1618 1826 1992 2129
6700 838 1300 1626 1834 2001 2138
6750 842 1306 1633 1842 2010 2148
6800 846 1311 1640 1850 2019 2157
6850 850 1317 1647 1858 2028 2167
6900 854 1323 1654 1866 2037 2176
6950 857 1329 1662 1874 2045 2186
7000 861 1334 1669 1882 2054 2195
7050 865 1340 1676 1891 2063 2205
7100 869 1346 1683 1899 2072 2214
7150 873 1351 1691 1907 2081 2224
7200 876 1357 1698 1915 2090 2233
7250 880 1363 1705 1923 2099 2243
7300 884 1369 1712 1931 2108 2253
7350 888 1374 1720 1939 2117 2262
7400 892 1380 1727 1947 2126 2272
7450 895 1386 1734 1956 2135 2281
7500 899 1391 1741 1964 2144 2291
7550 903 1397 1748 1972 2153 2300
7600 906 1402 1755 1979 2161 2309
7650 909 1407 1761 1986 2168 2317
7700 912 1412 1768 1993 2175 2325
7750 915 1417 1774 1999 2182 2333
7800 918 1422 1780 2006 2190 2340
7850 921 1427 1786 2012 2197 2348
7900 923 1431 1792 2019 2204 2356
7950 926 1436 1798 2026 2211 2364
8000 929 1441 1804 2032 2219 2372
8050 932 1446 1810 2039 2226 2380
8100 935 1451 1817 2045 2233 2388
8150 938 1456 1823 2052 2240 2396
8200 941 1461 1829 2059 2248 2404
8250 944 1465 1835 2065 2255 2412
8300 947 1470 1841 2072 2262 2420
8350 949 1475 1847 2078 2270 2428
8400 952 1480 1853 2085 2277 2436
8450 955 1485 1860 2092 2284 2444
8500 958 1490 1866 2098 2291 2452
8550 961 1494 1872 2105 2299 2460
8600 964 1499 1878 2111 2306 2468
8650 967 1504 1884 2118 2313 2476
8700 970 1509 1890 2125 2320 2484
8750 973 1514 1896 2131 2328 2492
8800 975 1518 1901 2137 2334 2498
8850 978 1521 1906 2142 2340 2504
8900 980 1525 1910 2147 2345 2510
8950 982 1528 1915 2152 2351 2516
9000 989 1539 1928 2168 2367 2534
9050 992 1543 1933 2173 2373 2540
9100 994 1547 1938 2179 2379 2546
9150 997 1551 1943 2184 2385 2552
9200 999 1554 1948 2190 2391 2559
9250 1002 1558 1953 2195 2397 2565
9300 1004 1562 1958 2201 2403 2571
9350 1007 1566 1963 2206 2409 2578
9400 1009 1570 1967 2212 2415 2584
9450 1012 1574 1972 2217 2421 2590
9500 1014 1577 1977 2223 2427 2596
9550 1017 1581 1982 2228 2433 2603
9600 1020 1585 1987 2234 2439 2609
9650 1022 1589 1992 2239 2445 2615
9700 1025 1593 1997 2245 2451 2622
9750 1027 1597 2001 2250 2457 2628
9800 1030 1601 2006 2256 2463 2634
9850 1032 1604 2011 2261 2469 2640
9900 1035 1608 2016 2267 2475 2647
9950 1037 1612 2021 2272 2481 2653
10000 1040 1616 2026 2278 2487 2659


(f) Adjusted basic child support obligation. - The adjusted basic child support obligation shall be determined by multiplying the basic child support obligation by one and one-half.

(g) Child care expenses. - (1) Subject to paragraphs (2) and (3) of this subsection, actual child care expenses incurred on behalf of a child due to employment or job search of either parent shall be added to the basic obligation and shall be divided between the parents in proportion to their adjusted actual incomes.

(2) Child care expenses shall be:

(i) determined by actual family experience, unless the court determines that the actual family experience is not in the best interest of the child; or

(ii) if there is no actual family experience or if the court determines that actual family experience is not in the best interest of the child:

1. the level required to provide quality care from a licensed source; or

2. if the custodial parent chooses quality child care with an actual cost of an amount less than the level required to provide quality care from a licensed source, the actual cost of the child care expense.

(3) Additional child care expenses may be considered if a child has special needs.

(h) Extraordinary medical expenses. - Any extraordinary medical expenses incurred on behalf of a child shall be added to the basic child support obligation and shall be divided between the parents in proportion to their adjusted actual incomes.

(i) School and transportation expenses. - By agreement of the parties or by order of court, the following expenses incurred on behalf of a child may be divided between the parents in proportion to their adjusted actual incomes:

(1) any expenses for attending a special or private elementary or secondary school to meet the particular educational needs of the child; or

(2) any expenses for transportation of the child between the homes of the parents.

(j) Setoff for third party payments. - (1) Except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection, when a disability dependency benefit, a retirement dependency benefit, or other third party dependency benefit is paid to or for a child of an obligor who is disabled, retired, or is receiving benefits from any source as a result of a compensable claim, the amount of the compensation shall be set off against the child support obligation calculated using the guidelines.

(2)(i) If the amount paid to or for a child exceeds the current child support obligation calculated using the guidelines, the excess payment shall be credited to any existing child support arrearage that accrued after the effective date the benefits were awarded.

(ii) The excess payment may not be credited to any future child support obligation.

(k) Use, possession or occupancy of family home. - (1) Upon the expiration of a use and possession order or the expiration of the right to occupy the family home under a separation or property settlement agreement and upon motion of either party, the court shall review the child support award.

(2) If the allocation of financial responsibility for the family home was a factor in departing from the guidelines under subsection (a) of this section, the court may modify the child support, if appropriate in all the circumstances, upon the expiration of the use and possession order or the expiration of the right to occupy the family home under a separation or property settlement agreement.

(l) Cases other than shared physical custody cases. - (1) Except in cases of shared physical custody, each parent's child support obligation shall be determined by adding each parent's respective share of the basic child support obligation, work-related child care expenses, extraordinary medical expenses, and additional expenses under subsection (i) of this section.

(2) The custodial parent shall be presumed to spend that parent's total child support obligation directly on the child or children.

(3) The noncustodial parent shall owe that parent's total child support obligation as child support to the custodial parent minus any ordered payments included in the calculations made directly by the noncustodial parent on behalf of the child or children for work-related child care expenses, extraordinary medical expenses, or additional expenses under subsection (i) of this section.

(m) Shared physical custody cases. - (1) In cases of shared physical custody, the adjusted basic child support obligation shall first be divided between the parents in proportion to their respective adjusted actual incomes.

(2) Each parent's share of the adjusted basic child support obligation shall then be multiplied by the percentage of time the child or children spend with the other parent to determine the theoretical basic child support obligation owed to the other parent.

(3) Subject to the provisions of paragraphs (4) and (5) of this subsection, the parent owing the greater amount under paragraph (2) of this subsection shall owe the difference in the 2 amounts as child support.

(4) In addition to the amount of the child support owed under paragraph (3) of this subsection, if either parent incurs child care expenses under subsection (g) of this section, extraordinary medical expenses under subsection (h) of this section, or additional expenses under subsection (i) of this section, the expense shall be divided between the parents in proportion to their respective adjusted actual incomes. The parent not incurring the expense shall pay that parent's proportionate share to:

(i) the parent making direct payments to the provider of the service; or

(ii) the provider directly, if a court order requires direct payments to the provider.

(5) The amount owed under paragraph (3) of this subsection may not exceed the amount that would be owed under subsection (1) of this section if the obligor parent were a noncustodial parent.