A parent has an obligation to support his or her minor child, with certain exceptions, until the child reaches age 18 (or 19 if the child remains enrolled in secondary school). Absent an agreement between the parties, a court can order child support, whereby one party will be obligated to make a monthly payment to the other parent to assist with the support and maintenance of the parties' child or children. A court can also order a parent to include a minor child on his or her health insurance policy if that parent is covered by such a policy and the child can be included at a reasonable cost. Since 1990, child support and modifications to child support in Maryland are based upon mandated child support guidelines. The guidelines are based upon the combined gross incomes of the parents. Use of the guidelines is mandatory in every support case, except upon a court finding that application of the guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate. Effective October 2010, the Maryland Child Support Guidelines were revised which has generally resulted in higher child support obligations for obligated parents.
In general, a court may modify an existing child support award upon a showing of a "material change in circumstances" since the time of the initial support award.