Child – an individual under age 18 for whom support is sought.

Custodial Parent – the parent with primary care and custody of the child. In equal shared custody cases, this is the parent that is eligible to receive child support.

Custodian – a nonparent caregiver with physical custody of at least one child under age 18.

Noncustodial Parent – the parent obligated to pay child support.



In Maryland, both parents are required to support their child until the child is 18 years of age or 19 depending on their Secondary school status. Any parent or guardian of at least one child under age 18 can apply for child support services.


Safeguarding Confidentiality

The Child Support Program is required to safeguard the privacy, integrity, access to, and use of your personal information (including case data kept in the computer system of the Child Support Program). We share your address and other identifying information with other State and federal agencies only for child support purposes or as otherwise permitted by law. Information can only be released to authorized persons for reasons authorized by law.


Use of Social Security Numbers:
Title IV-D of the Social Security Act requires that Social Security numbers be used only for locating parents, establishing paternity or parentage, and/or establishing, modifying, and enforcing an order of support; the administration of certain public benefit programs; or as otherwise permitted by law. In addition, Social Security numbers will be subject to verification through the Social Security Administration.


Services Provided

The Child Support Program will provide the child support services appropriate for your case according to federal and Maryland State law, regulation, and policy. With your assistance and cooperation, services may be provided to you for as long as child support payments are due and owing. The following services are provided, as appropriate:

  • Location of the Other Party, including obtaining information about addresses, employment, other sources of income and assets, and health care coverage.
  • Establishment of Parentage for a child through Marriage, the voluntary acknowledgment process or through a court-based process.
  • Establishment and/or Modification of an order of support, including establishment of health insurance coverage or cash medical support, if available, from either parent.
  • Collection and Distribution of child support or combined child and spousal support made payable through the Support Collection Unit and cash medical support.
  • Enforcement of Support Obligations through income withholding from wages, benefits, or other income; federal and State tax refund intercept; seizure of assets and lottery winnings; credit bureau reporting; suspension of the noncustodial parent’s Maryland State driver license, Professional license, Passport; and referral to the Maryland State Department of Taxation and Finance for collection. Court-ordered health insurance benefits are also enforced by the Child Support Program.
  • Filing and prosecuting Violation Petitions; and
  • Assistance with making an existing order of support payable through the
    Office of Child Support.

All services listed above are also provided to parents who live in other counties, states, and some countries.

Why Your Child Support Case May Be Closed

Your child support case may be closed for reasons including, but not limited to:

  • Parentage cannot be established.
    • The Other Party cannot be located after diligent effort or is incarcerated with no chance of parole, permanently disabled with no ability to pay support, or institutionalized.
  • The recipient of services fails to cooperate or provide information that is essential to the next step in providing services.
  • The recipient of services makes a written request to close the case; or
  • The Child Support Program is unable to contact the recipient of services.

Parentage Establishment

Establishing parentage is the process of determining the legal parents of a child.

Parentage may be established in any of the following ways:

  • Using the voluntary acknowledgment process. Affidavits
  • Filing a petition with the Family Court to have the court determine paternity and issue an Order of Filiation or filing a petition for the court to determine parentage and issue a Judgment of Parentage.
  • By a surrogacy agreement, or in a record showing the consent of the parents to use assisted reproduction.

Distribution of Payments

Support payments are distributed according to federal and Maryland State distribution rules.

  • If the custodial parent has never received Temporary Assistance, they will receive all support that is collected and due, except for the Annual Service Fee and the recovery of costs for legal services, if applicable.
  • If the custodial parent formerly received Temporary Assistance, child support collections received will first be used to pay current support followed by payments for support arrears/past due support owed to the custodial parent and then to support arrears/past due support due to the social services district. Collections received from federal tax refund offset will first be paid to satisfy any support arrears/past due support due the social services district and then to support arrears/past due support owed to the custodial parent.