In a recent Court of Appeals case, Burak v. Burak, the opinion mentions in passing that the trial court ordered an unemployed parent to provide information, to the child support recipient, about attempts to obtain employment every 60 days after the child support order was granted and until the parent obtained employment. This issue was not appealed, so not discussed any further by the Appeals Court.
But can a court do that?
No, because there is no law or rule allowing this.
Likewise, there is no law or rule allowing the court to order that parents exchange income information or documents after the child support order is granted and the case ends.
During a court case, the parents can be required to provide this type of information and related documents in the discovery process, which is a process of exchanging documents and information in response to Requests for Production of Documents and Interrogatories. Also during litigation, parents are required to file sworn financial statements with the court, disclosing income and expenses of the child, and in some cases their assets and liabilities too. And, the court can require parents to produce documents to verify their incomes while the child support case is open. The right to this information and these documents ends when the case ends.
Unless parents choose to exchange this type of information by agreement. If part of a formal agreement, the court can order parents to comply with their agreement and produce information.
Once the child support case ends, the court can only require the parent paying child support to notify the court of changes of address and employer. And, this requirement must be included in every child support order for the payment of support directly between parents (instead of via garnishment of earnings withholding). Specifically, the order must require the paying parent to notify the court of:
(i) any change of address within 10 days after moving to a new address; or
(ii) any change of employment within 10 days after receiving the first earnings from a new employer.
Failure to comply exposes the parent to a penalty not to exceed $ 250 and may result in the parent’s not receiving notice about earnings withholding order requests. (Though I have never seen the penalty enforced.)
If this issue had been appealed, I wonder what the Appeals Courts would have done?
Since 2002, Lindsay Parvis has represented clients in Maryland custody, divorce, and marital matters. She negotiates, litigates, and advocates for the best interests of her clients, whether in contested litigation, uncontested settlement, or premarital and other agreements. Her clients are not only spouses and parents, but also children whose interests she is appointed by the court to represent in contested custody litigation. She is a graduate of Mount Holyoke and University of Baltimore School of Law. Lindsay strives to improve Maryland law in the General Assembly, volunteering her time to monitor, advocate, and educate about legislative developments in family law. You can follow her on Linked In, Facebook, LindsayParvis.com, and subscribe to her Newsletter for discussion, news, and developments in Maryland family law.