Child support is a difficult issue because most parents would rather have custody and spend money on their child at their own discretion than to be ordered to pay by the courts. Payments allow the custodial parent to make important decisions about how the money is spent.
There are ways to modify child support or make other changes, but this is usually difficult and it requires the expertise of an experienced family lawyer.
How is a support amount determined?
Some of the most important factors used to determine child support amounts include the parent’s income, the amount of time the child will spend with the custodial and non-custodial parent, and costs of things like healthcare, daycare, overnight stays with each parent, and education. There is a specific formula called the Michigan Child Support Formula which is used to make this determination. The state government provides a calculator that can be accessed online to help parents get an estimate of their support obligation. The parents can fill out a form that allow them to deviate from the guidelines if they have special circumstances and agree to a different amount, however this still needs to be presented to a judge and approved.
Modification of an existing child support order
Once an order for child support is in place, it can only be modified for a few specific reasons. These include a change or loss of employment, change in custody, and moving to a new area. A formal motion regarding support will need to be filed and the merits of the claim will have to be argued in front of a judge before a modification can be approved by the court. Keep in mind that something like voluntarily changing jobs and making less money in the process may not convince a court that the amount which is owed should be changed. The rules regarding child support tend to be strict, and even parents who end up in jail or have their visitation rights terminated are still technically obligated to pay their support obligations.
How long does child support last?
Support payments will remain due from the time an order is place until the child turns 18. However, payments may be extended until the child reaches 19 if they are still in high school, living with the custodial parent full time, and expected to graduate within a reasonable amount of time.
How is child support enforced?
The courts will issue a uniform child support order that requires payment of the total amount due minus whatever is paid to a healthcare insurance provider. Any additional medical expenses are usually shared by both parents at a certain percentage if they increase beyond what is described in the order. The state government has a disbursement unit that will make arrangements to automatically deduct the payments from a parent’s wages. Failure to make payments will cause the government to withhold wages, put liens on property, and even hold contempt proceedings if the person is willfully disobeying the support order.
Speak with an experienced attorney in your area
For more information about child support laws in Michigan and issues with your specific child support order, contact Gordon and Hess. They can assist you will all kinds of family law matters in the Grand Rapids area.