Child Support Lawyer – Michigan Family Law Firm
Child support is defined as a court-ordered payment of money from one parent of a child to another. These payments may include healthcare, child care, expenses for education, etc. Children have an inherent right to the support of their natural or adoptive parents and there are specific legal obligations in Michigan for both parents to provide necessary support for a child. A child support lawyer understands these obligations and can provide guidance in determining what type of support a child and spouse are legal entitled to.
As a family law firm with decades of experience, Kelly & Kelly P.C are highly experienced with legal aspects involved with child support in Michigan. You can learn more about these aspects below.
How is Child Support Determined in Michigan
The Michigan child support formula considers the needs of the child and the resources of the family and assigns the child a share of those resources in the form of payments. The formula will consider the parents income, the allotment of custody and parenting time of each parent and the number of children to be supported. The formula will also consider the division of health care costs and child care expenses, etc.
A court must order support in an amount determined by the formula unless the court finds that application of the formula would be unjust or inappropriate with specific facts on the record to support the deviation.
The Michigan family court can consider an agreement between the parties but the court does not need to follow the agreement.
What Child Support Covers
Generally speaking, child support exists to provide for the essentials such as food, clothes, medical care, education, and shelter. With that said, under certain conditions, these payments may be extended to cover other expenses. These additional expenses may include: care for a child with special needs, travel expenses, etc.
To make this more straightforward, here is a list of what’s legally covered under child support in Michigan.
– Medical Costs
– Primary Education (elementary and high school)
In order to extend this list to other areas, the parents can either enter into a voluntary agreement or a written court order to modify child support can be executed under certain conditions.
In cases where a parent is uncooperative in providing necessary support or disputing an existing legal agreement, it’s vital to speak with a child support lawyer to explore your legal options.
Child Support and Healthcare Costs
In Michigan, both parents are responsible for the health care costs of a child. This includes ordinary medical care provided by health care professionals, extraordinary medical expenses, which are costs over the ordinary expenses along with general health care insurance coverage.
The courts will order one or both parents to maintain health care coverage for the children if it is available as a benefit of employment or at a reasonable cost. If the parents do not have health insurance, they must share in the cost of any medical expenses not covered by insurance.
Modifying Child Support
A change to either parents income or the amount of parenting time can justify a change in child support. But when a party voluntarily reduces or eliminates income and the court determines that a party has the ability to earn an income and pay the support, the court does not need to lower the amount. This is called potential income, and this could be a major issue for a parent who was once earning a high salary, and now has a reduced or no salary.
A judge will determine the potential income of the parent by looking at that parents education, experience and availability of opportunities in the job market.
When determining the modified amount, the court will apply the Michigan child support formula, but can deviate from the formula if it finds that the application of the formula would be unjust or inappropriate, and it is backed up by specific findings.
It’s important to note, parents cannot use this modification to “get out” of payment. Parents may not bargain away, limit, or restrict modifications because a child is entitled to adequate support and to do so would usurp the court’s authority.
Any agreement to put a limit on child support will be unenforceable in Michigan. This is different than the parties right to limit or agree to no spousal support.
The State of Michigan can suspend the driver’s license of a parent who fails to make payments. This also includes occupational licenses such as law, real estate, police officers, day care, building contractors, medical licenses, and recreational and sporting licenses such as hunting and fishing.
Post Majority Support
A Michigan court may order what is called post-majority support for a child between the ages of 18 and 19 1/2 if the child is still attending high school full-time, has a reasonable expectation of graduating from high school and is living full-time with the person receiving the support.
The support order will terminate on the last day of a specific month rather than the exact graduation date. Although the court cannot order support after 19 1/2, the parties are free to agree to an extended period of support.
In some cases, a spouse may attempt to minimize monthly payments by hiding income. This may be common if a spouse is involved in a cash business, or simply tries to hide income in other matters.
There are a few alternative methods for identifying a spouse’s additional income by looking at bank deposits, expenditures and financial statements that may have been used to gain a credit line or a loan. If you think your spouse is hiding income, you should contact a child support lawyer who can assist you with your case.
Either party, the court or the Michigan Friend of the Court may move for a temporary order of child support during the divorce proceedings, annulment or separate maintenance case.
A temporary order cannot be granted in Michigan unless a hearing is held or both parties agree to the order. This order can be modified, and remains in effect until a final judgment is in place.