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How society views fairness may not match how the law views it

Most people who are facing the prospect of divorce for the first time have an expectation that the law, which is supposed to be unbiased by its nature, will deliver a fair outcome. This expectation goes for everything, including which spouse will be required to pay alimony to how marital property will be divided.

But our societal definition of what constitutes fair may contrast greatly with how the law views it. Take for example child support laws here in Maryland. In our state, the courts take into consideration the income of both parents when determining how much should be paid to the custodial parent by the non-custodial parent. While this might seem fair to the courts, the same might not be true for those making or receiving payments.

The issue between what is perceived by the public to be fair and what the law considers fair is not exclusive to Maryland as you probably realized. In fact, according to researchers, it's an issue experienced in states all over the United States and even overseas in countries like England.

Instead of using an income shares model, such as the one used here in Maryland, a majority of people believe that child support should be calculated using a percentage of income model. For those who do not know, this type of model evaluates the custodial parent's income then orders a percentage of a non-custodial parent's income be paid based on how high or low the custodial parent's income is.

Whether public opinion on fairness prompts changes to the law here in Maryland remains to be seen. But what many of our Columbia readers likely hope is that our state courts continue to do what is best for the child in the event of a divorce.

Sources: The Desert News National, "The disconnect between how we view child support laws and how they actually work," Many Morgan, June 2, 2015

The Maryland Department of Human Resources, "Receiving Support: Frequently Asked Questions," Accessed June 25, 2015

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