Yes. As discussed below, paying alimony will generally reduce the amount of child support. When a married couple divorces in Maryland or the District of Columbia, among other things, the Maryland divorce courts and the DC divorce courts will evaluate whether alimony is to be awarded and will also evaluate matters related to child custody and child support payments (assuming there are minor children).
Some parents/spouses who end up paying both child support and alimony are often outraged and don’t understand why they seem to be “paying twice.” The reason is that, under both sets of divorce laws, alimony and child support are distinct and legally different. Alimony is for the other spouse and child support payments are for the child/children. The Maryland divorce statutes and the DC divorce statutes make a clear distinction between these awards and establish distinct legal standards for how divorce courts are to determine the awards.
That being said, there IS an interplay between alimony and child support. As noted above, a spouse paying alimony will pay less money in child support. In simple terms, the alimony paid is deducted from the income of the paying spouse and added to the income of the other for purposes of calculating child support. Below is a more detailed explanation. If you have questions about alimony, child support and/or obtaining a divorce here Maryland or the District of Columbia, call us at the Law Offices of Thomas Stahl. Call for a consultation at (410) 696-4326 or (202) 964-7280. We have offices in Columbia, MD and Washington, DC.
Basics of MD/DC child support calculations
In both Maryland and DC, child support payments are based on statutory guidelines. The statutory guidelines identify the TOTAL amount of support that a child (or children) needs based on the combined income of their parents. Once the TOTAL amount of child support is determined, under both statutes, the parents are expected to share that total between them based on their percentage of their combined income. To use a simple example, if the combined income is $100,000 and there are two children, then the statutory guidelines will indicate that, hypothetically, the TOTAL child support should be $20,000. That hypothetical $20,000 must be split between the parents based on their percentage contribution to their combined income. So, if both parents make $50,000, then each will be expected to pay/provide 50% of the total child support obligation of $20,000. But, if one parent makes $75,000 a year and the other makes $25,000, then the split will be 75/25.
How do alimony payments reduce child support payments?
An award of alimony will reduce child support payments because alimony is included in how a parent’s “income” is defined for purposes of calculating each parent’s percentage of the total combined parental income. Essentially, alimony paid is deducted from the income of the paying spouse and added to the income of the receiving spouse. This is clearly stated in the DC divorce code which states:
“Alimony paid by either parent to the other parent subject to the support order shall be deducted from the gross income of the parent paying the alimony before the child support obligation is computed. Alimony received from any person, including alimony received from the other parent subject to the support order, shall be added to the gross income of the parent receiving the alimony before the child support obligation is computed. Deductions and additions for alimony shall be made regardless of whether the alimony is court ordered or paid pursuant to an agreement.”
See Code of the District of Columbia, § 16–916.01 (d)(2). Maryland divorce law has a similar provision at MD. Family Law Code, § 12-204(a)(2).
Maryland and DC Divorce and Family Law Attorneys
For more information, contact the seasoned and experienced Maryland and DC divorce, family law and estate planning attorneys at The Law Offices of Thomas Stahl. We have the experience and expertise you need. We have proven experience with divorce and family law for Maryland and the District of Columbia. Schedule a consultation today or call us at (410) 696-4326 or (202) 964-7280. We have offices in Columbia, MD and Washington, DC.