Maryland Child Support & Overnight Calculations

Maryland child support is based on the number of overnight visits

Maryland uses a parenting time percentage in its child support formula to determine the amount of child support in your divorce case.

Besides income, overnight totals are a key part of the Maryland child support formula. Your overnights directly affect your child support, whether you pay or receive.

Most overnight totals are estimates (and thus incorrect)

Maryland attorneys and judges often rely on overnight estimates only, even if they are incorrect, because counting total hours is tedious and time consuming. Divorcing parents often rely on these estimates as well.

Using estimates means your overnight totals are wrong when compared to your actual parenting time schedule. This means your child support amount will not be fair or exact.

How to calculate overnights instead of relying on estimates

To calculate overnights, the easiest and most accurate way is to use software. Without software, you're forced to count each night for a whole year, which is error-prone when you include alternating holidays, summer break, and any changes to the schedule throughout the year.

The leading overnight calculation software, Custody X Change, can calculate your overnights to see if they were estimated incorrectly.

Calculate Your Overnights Now

Using software, you can also tweak your schedule to see how even little changes affect your total overnights, and you can see how your overnights change each year due to holidays and other events.

You can also track what actually happens, and show how many overnights you've actually received for any period of time. Historical information is a powerful tool when you request a child support modification or when you request more parenting time.

Fast facts on Maryland child support

In any divorce, Maryland family courts award custody of the children to one or both parents. Custody is divided into legal custody and physical custody. The number of overnights factors into the child support formula for shared custody.

Maryland sole physical custody: The children reside with and are supervised by the residential parent, while the other parent is entitled to scheduled visitations. In Maryland, sole physical custody is given to the parent with whom the children spend the most time with.

Maryland shared physical custody: Each parent has significant periods of physical custody, which allows them frequent and continuing contact with their children. Maryland law outlines shared custody as any arrangement in which the child has regular and continuing contact with both parents. To qualify for shared physical custody in Maryland, the non-residential parent must host the children for at least 128 overnights, or 35 percent of the total annual time.  

Maryland child support formula and parenting time adjustment

Maryland family courts use formulas that consider both parents' incomes and the needs of the child to arrive at a monthly child support amount.  The parenting time percentage adjustment only figures into shared physical custody cases.

Sole custody formula: The total income between the two parents is put into the formula, then a basic monthly support is figured by using the Maryland Child Support Guidelines. Certain deductions are allowed when figuring total income. Overnights do not figure into the formula. The residential parent receives child support from the non-residential parent, according to Maryland law.

Joint custody formula: Maryland family courts use a different formula to figure out child support for equal parenting time. To qualify for a parenting time adjustment credit, the non-residential parent must host the children for at least 128 overnights or 35 percent of the total time. More overnights included in the formula means a lower child support amount.

Examples of sole child custody and Maryland child support

Consider the hypothetical case of Robert and Mary. Robert earns $4,000 per month, while Mary earns $2,400 per month. They have two children.

See how the child support amounts change in these examples:

  • Scenario #1: Robert is the non-residential parent in this sole custody case, and is scheduled to host the children for fewer than 128 overnights per year. He does not qualify for a parenting time percentage adjustment. He pays $916 in child support to Mary.
  • Scenario #2: Mary is the non-residential parent and hosts the children for fewer than 128 overnights. She pays $550 in child support to Robert.
  • Scenario #3: If Robert and Mary both make $4,000 per month and Robert is the non-residential parent, he still pays child support. He pays $794 in child support to Mary, regardless of their equal income.
In Maryland sole custody cases, the non-residential parent pays child support to the residential parent, regardless of income.
Examples of shared custody formula and Maryland child support

Consider the hypothetical case of Robert and Mary. Robert earns $4,000 per month, while Mary earns $2,400 per month. They have two children.

See how the child support amounts change in these examples:

  • Scenario #1: Robert hosts the children for 128 overnights, the minimum required to qualify for shared physical custody in Maryland. He pays $603 in child support to Mary.
  • Scenario #2: Robert adds two more weeks of overnights to total 142. He pays $519 in child support to Mary.
  • Scenario#3: Robert hosts the children for 156 overnights. He pays $434 in child support to Mary.
  • Scenario #4: Robert and Mary agree to equal parenting time, or 182 overnights. Robert pays Mary $278 in child support. This is because he is the higher earner.

If Mary were the non-residential parent, she would make child support payments to Robert based on how many overnights she hosted the children.

Other factors in the Maryland child support formula

Maryland's child support formula uses the following information to calculate your monthly amounts for shared custody child support:

  • Overnights: Unlike some states, Maryland does not factor in daytime visitations into a child support formula—only overnights. However, overnights must include more than just providing children with a place to sleep. Overnights are included in the formula as a parenting time credit.
  • Eligible children: According to Article I,§24, Annotated Code of Maryland, the age of majority in Maryland is 18. If the child is still enrolled in secondary school, support continues until age 19 or graduation, whichever occurs first. Disabled children are generally provided support past this age, and the Maryland family court considers need on a case-by-case basis.
  • Gross earnings: Gross earnings are established based on tax records and current pay stubs. Maryland law requires the use of both parents' incomes from the equivalent of one full-time job to determine a child support amount.
  • Specific deductions: There are some deductions allowed by Maryland family courts that allow an adjustment of the income, including health insurance premiums for the children, support for other children and child care expenses, for example.
How accurate child support helps your children

Paying accurate child support helps your children in several ways, primarily because it ensures their financial needs are met.

Here are some other reasons why accurate overnight numbers help you, the other parent and your children:

  • It provides a fair way to determine your child support amounts
  • It guarantees the child support amount reflects each parent's responsibilities
  • It allows for modifications if your actual time and scheduled time are different
  • It is compliant with Maryland law

Your financial obligations to your children don't end with divorce, so whether you are paying or receiving child support, you owe it to your children to pay or receive the proper amount.

Top 5 things to remember about Maryland child support and overnights

To ensure you are paying or receiving the right amount of child support in Maryland, remember these 5 things:

  1. Child support in Maryland is determined by the Maryland Code Annotated 12-201-204. Shared physical custody child support formulas include overnight totals where non-residential parent hosts the children. The sole custody formula does not include overnights.
  2. Both parents provide an adjusted gross income to figure the base child support obligation, based on a Maryland child support schedule.
  3. The minimum amount of overnights to qualify for shared physical custody in Maryland is 128, or 35 percent of the total annual parenting time. Both parents must also contribute to the costs of raising the children outside of child support.
  4. More overnights for the non-residential parent results in a lower amount of child support.
  5. If parents with shared physical custody agree to a 50/50 split on parenting time, the higher earning parent will make child support payments to the lower earning parent.

Use Custody X Change software to create a custody schedule that will quickly calculate the total overnights for the Maryland child support formula.

As you negotiate what kind of custody schedule will best fit your needs, the software will accurately calculate your parenting time percentage.


The leading overnight calculation software, Custody X Change, can calculate your overnights to see if they were estimated incorrectly.

Calculate Your Time

The leading overnight calculation software, Custody X Change, can calculate your overnights to see if they were estimated incorrectly.

Calculate Your Overnights Now