Children have a legal right to financial support from both parents. A parent cannot avoid paying child support by agreeing not to have parenting time (visitation) or by agreeing to have their parental rights terminated. There are also cases where a parent must continue to pay child support even after their parental rights have been terminated.

Children Must Have Financial Support.

Michigan State Law believes both parents are obligated to financially support their minor children, unless there is a valid reason that a competent court jurisdiction modifies or terminates that obligation, or the minor child is emancipated.  The law, subject to section 5b may continue support after a child reaches 18 years and until the child is 19 ½ if the child:

  • Attends high school full-time,
  • Has a reasonable expectation of graduating from high school during that period,
  • Lives full-time with the parent that gets child support or at an institution.

Child support normally includes a base amount, plus amounts for health care and child care costs, and can be ordered by the court in a:

  • Paternity or custody case (parents were never married),
  • Divorce case,
  • Support case.

In Grand Rapids Michigan the courts use a formula to determine the amount of child support and to whom it is given.  It is based on 1) each parent’s individual income, 2) how many children are being supported, 3) health care costs, 4) child care costs 5) other individual factors, and 6) the amount of nights the supported child spends with them in the course of a year. A uniform child support order is granted based on these factors.

Collecting Child Support.

Collection of child support payments can be orchestrated by the Michigan State Disbursement Unit (MiSDU) and Friend of the Court working collectively to receive child support and distribute it to custodial parent, either through wage garnishment, or other means when income withholding is not possible because the payer is not employed, is self-employed or for other reasons. In those cases payments can be made directly to MiSDU and forwarded on to the payee.  Sometimes the parties agree to an alternative payment arrangement and those details are available at the MiSDU website.

Child Support Orders.

Child support orders are enforceable whether the order is ex parte, temporary, final, or a modification of a previous order. Enforcement methods include:

  • Withholding income from a payer’s wages,
  • Placing a lien on a payer’s real or personal property,
  • Garnishing state and federal tax refunds,
  • Suspending driver’s, occupational, sporting and/or recreational licenses,
  • Contempt proceedings.

When there is a significant amount of child support in arrears, the Friend of the Court or the payee can file a Motion to Show Cause. If the court decides the payer has the ability to pay some or all of the amount owed, the payer can be held in contempt of court. Common penalties for contempt include jail time and fines. If either parent has a change of income it should be noted in the courts so that amounts can be changed to reflect the new income.

If a custodial parent and/or a child receive public assistance, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services can file a motion for child support in the custodial parent’s name to offset the state funding that is supporting the child.

Hire an Attorney.

Seeking out legal counsel at Gordon & Hess, PLC will benefit you as you navigate your way through the child support process.  Child support situations are unique to the individual circumstances and Gordon & Hess will make every effort to make sure your child’s future is taken care of financially.

Gordon & Hess, PLC

McKay Tower

146 Monroe Center Street, NW 1225

Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Phone: 616-272-3331




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