Articles Posted in Child Support

Child support is based upon a formula that takes into consideration the incomes of both parties, the amount of overnights the payor has with the child, health care costs, child care costs, and tax exemptions.

Child support is generally paid through the Friend of the Court, which will keep track of, and enforce, child support obligations.

For more information on child support, contact the attorneys at SMDA, P.C.

Pursuant to MCL 552.605b, a court that orders child support may order support for a child, after the child reaches 18 years of age.

In order for the court to award support for a child over 18, the child must be regularly attending high school on a full-time basis, with a reasonable expectation of completing sufficient credits to graduate from high school while residing on a full-time basis with the recipient of support or at an institution, but in no case after the child reaches 19 years and 6 months of age.

If you believe you are entitled to support, for a child over the age of 18, please call the attorneys of Serafini, Michalowski, Derkacz & Associates, P.C. at (586) 264-3756.

How much does it cost the average parent to rear three children from birth to age 18? Some sources say $1 million. However, Anne Dias Griffin, who had three children with hedge fund billionaire Kenneth Griffin, thinks the number lands closer to $1 million per month.

Mrs. Griffin made headlines when she claimed that in order to keep up with the expenses of her three children, Mr. Griffin should be forced to pay a monthly six-figure sum in child support.
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In Rolley v. Rolley, an Indiana Court was faced with the issue of child support modification, when the parties had deviated from the child support guidelines. When Father and Mother divorced, they reached an agreement regarding child support that substantially deviated from what would be ordered by applying the Indiana Child Support Guidelines. Later, Mother petitioned to modify Father’s child support obligation. The trial court granted the motion and modified Father’s support requirements. Father appealed, arguing that agreed child support terms cannot be modified absent a substantial and continuing change in circumstances that renders those terms unreasonable. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court granted transfer, adopted the portion of the Court of Appeals’ opinion that addresses the available grounds for modification, and summarily affirmed the portion of the Court of Appeals’ opinion addressing the trial court’s calculation of Father’s support obligation. Thus, the Court determined that the standard for modification was not only a substantial and continuing change, but also the timing and amount of the deviation.

The Michigan Child Support Guidelines were modified in 2008 in order to create a more graduated decrease in child support as the payor’s parenting time increased. Prior to 2008, there was essentially a cliff where if the payor reached 128 overnights, the child support dropped dramatically. This tainted many divorce and custody negotiations because the negotiations centered on money and not what was in the best interests of the minor children. So, the new formula took care of that. Unfortunately however, the guidelines do not tell us exactly what the child support is used for.

According to MCL 552.602 “support” is defined as “the payment of money for a child or a spouse ordered by the circuit court, whether the order is embodied in an interim, temporary, permanent, or modified order or judgment. Support may include payment of the expenses of medical, dental, and other health care, child care expenses, and educational expenses”. In addition, generally speaking, expenses like clothing, food, haircuts, shelter (i.e. mortgage/rent, utilities, etc.) etc. are intended to be covered by child support. Also, there are provisions in every child support order to account for uncovered or extraordinary medical bills and each party pays his/her percentage of such expenses (i.e. braces, co-pays, deductibles, etc.).

Unfortunately, Michigan law doesn’t specifically tell us whether expenses for extra-curricular activities like sports, dance, clubs, etc. are covered by child support. For that reason, many divorce judgments will include a provision that defines how the parties will pay for extra-curricular activities particularly if the children are involved in such activities at the time of the divorce. These costs may be split in some fashion or born by one party. If there is no provision in the judgment and the custodial parent can’t afford to sign a child up for a certain activity (i.e. the child support is not enough), then he/she would have to get an agreement with the other parent to split the cost. Also, since most parents have joint legal custody, both parents must agree that the activity is appropriate for the child.

If you are the payor or the person paying child support (remember, in today’s world, it’s not always the husband that pays. . .but that’s a discussion for another blog post) pursuant to a custody order contained in a divorce judgment or custody agreement, you should be aware of your rights. Most cases opt to utilize Friend of the Court services so that the payments go directly from the payor’s pay check, through the Michigan Disbursement Office and deposited into the payee’s bank account. Friend of the Court can also assist parties when they have parenting time disputes but whether to pursue such a matter on your own is something you must think seriously about because a family law attorney (i.e. me!) will follow proper procedure and assist you in putting your best foot forward. In addition, by law, you get a free review of child support every 36 months and you don’t have to use a lawyer.

So, one of the options you should consider if you’re falling behind in your child support is to seek a modification of your child support in hopes that the payment will go down. In my experience as a family law attorney, it is much better for the payor who is falling behind in child support to be proactive. If you can’t afford an attorney, you can still use Friend of the Court forms to file a motion for a reduction. But, remember, there is no guarantee you will prevail and an attorney will have the expertise to assist you in formulating a game plan. Most judges understand that people do fall on hard times so even if you can’t get child support reduced, an attorney can effectively advocate an appropriate arrangement so you can pay back the arrearage.

When pursuing an increase or reduction in your child support, the court will look at 3 primary factors: over night parenting time and the income of each of the parties. Many individuals pursue child support modifications without using an attorney. Sometimes it works but often it fails. The reason is, an attorney will advocate on your behalf. For example, if you’re the recipient of child support and your ex-spouse is not exercising his/her parenting time, your attorney will make appropriate arguments, present evidence, etc. to support the utilization of a lower number of over nights which may increase the child support you receive.