According to the Maryland Child Support Enforcement Administration (CSEA), $534 million in court-ordered child support payments was collected from noncustodial parents in 2008. As of 2010, there were approximately 500,000 open child support cases, but a statute of limitations is in place for each case.
In Maryland, you have until the child's 18th birthday to legally establish paternity, or the identification of the child's father. Under the law, only an affidavit of parentage, which must be filed with the state's Division of Vital Records, is legally binding as proof of paternity. The affidavit can be signed immediately in the hospital after the child's birth, or after a genetic test in the child's future. Maryland law also stipulates that fathers under 18 years of age can sign the affidavit, even if a parent or guardian is not present.
Once signed, the affidavit of parentage is a legal document and can be used to determine child support payments. However, a father has 60 days to nullify the document with a Rescission Form for Affidavit of Parentage, which also must be signed and filed with the state's Division of Vital Records. After 60 days, the affidavit can be nullified only through a court order, and only in cases where fraud or mistake of fact was committed.
Termination of Benefits
Maryland law states that child support payments cannot be collected after the age of 18, but some exceptions apply. For example, if the child is enrolled in a secondary school, such as high school, he can receive benefits until the age of 19 as long as he is enrolled in the school. However, the age-19 rule may need to be rewritten into the contract if it was signed before Oct. 1, 2002. If the child is over 18 years of age but disabled, some child support may be required as well. Finally, if there is a parental contract to support the child through four years of college, child support payments may not cease while the child is enrolled in a postsecondary school.
Once paternity is established, a parent has 12 years to enforce child support payments before the case is dropped because of Maryland's statute of limitations on pursuing support. The state does not recognize dormancy revival or renewal cases that occur if the case was inactive but then restarted at a later date.