Child Support

Child Support Attorneys Located in Canton, Michigan


Child support is money paid by a non-custodial parent to the custodial parent for the support of a minor child. In determining the amount of child support, Michigan has adopted a Statewide Child Support Guideline. Under a new federal law, the Judge and the Friend of the Court (FOC) must use the Guideline in setting support levels unless it would be grossly unfair to do so. The Guideline considers the incomes of both parents and the needs of the child based on national statistics showing what it costs to raise a child in a typical family of a similar income level. We will use the Guideline to calculate the amount of child support once a full disclosure of both parent’s finances has been made. Child support is not tax deductible to the parent who is paying it and it is not taxable to the parent who receives it.

Child support is based mainly on the child’s needs (in conformity with the lifestyle of the parties), and the ability to pay. The FOC may calculate the amount (and may include a payment for a portion of daycare expenses). If your spouse is ordered to pay child support, an order of income withholding may issue compelling his or her employer to automatically deduct the amount from each paycheck. If a payer failed to pay court ordered support, he or she may be held in contempt of court. This may result in a jail term.

II.    How Much?

The variables that the court considers when setting an amount of child support include but are not limited to the following:

1.    Which party has physical custody of the children?

2.    The number of minor children?

3.    Income for Plaintiff?

4.    Income for Defendant?

5.    Who pays the health care for the children?

6.    Amount of day care expense?

7.    Number of overnights for the non-custodial parent, if more than 78?

8.    Number of overnights for each child?

9.    Whether Plaintiff or Defendant has a second family?

10.  Other support orders that payor is required to pay?

11.  If there day care then amount and who pays it?

III.    Payment of Child Support

Child support should be paid through Michigan State Disbursement Unit (MISDU). This allows for accurate record keeping and prompt and in-expensive enforcement if an arrearage accrues. If direct support payments are made, record keeping and enforcement are made difficult. Many judges will refuse to grant a divorce unless the judgment requires that child support be paid through MISDU.  Automatic income withholding (wage garnishment) provisions are required in each temporary support order and in the support clause of the divorce judgment. This requires the non-custodial parent’s employer (or other source of income) to withhold from his/her paycheck monies owing for child support.

IV.    Arrearage

If, at the time the judgment of Divorce is entered, there is an arrearage of child support payments, medical expenses, etc. the Judgment of Divorce must contain a provision preserving this arrearage. In fact, if any monies are owing under any temporary order, they must be preserved in the Final Judgment of Divorce, or they are waived.

In some cases, payment of the cost of a college education is negotiated as part of a final divorce settlement. However, without an agreement between the parents, the court cannot order payment for college expenses. However, once the agreement is made, it can be enforced by the court through its contempt (fines, jail) powers. We will discuss this issue with you in detail.

V.    Modification

Child support is modifiable upon a showing of “changed circumstances.” Support is usually ordered until the minor child reaches the age of eighteen or graduates from high school, whichever occurs last. In exceptional circumstances (such as the child’s severe physical or mental disability), support may be continued beyond the age of 18.

Child support is modifiable on the same basis as alimony, if a change in circumstances occurs. This support is usually ordered, until the minor reaches the age of 18 years, or graduates from high school, so long as the minor child regularly attends 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 payee of support or at an institution, but in no case after the child reaches nineteen years and six months of age, or until further order of the Court.

VI.    Enforcement for Non-Payment

Enforcement of payments is instituted by an Order to Show Cause.  Other enforcement methods include interception of tax refunds, placing liens on the non-custodial parent’s property, notification to credit bureaus of past-due support, and holding the non-custodial parent in contempt of court, which could result in a fine, jail, or both.

VII.    Failure to pay support and parenting time

If a non-custodial parent is denied visitation, it is not the right of that parent to stop making child support payments. Support and visitation are separate issues and should not be played one against the other. If visitation is denied contrary to a court order, or if child support is not paid contrary to a court order, the court will enforce either on behalf of the aggrieved party. A non-custodial parent should not take “the law into their own hands” and withhold child support because he/she has been denied visitation. Conversely, a custodial parent should not deny visitation for the failure to receive child support.

To learn more about child support, please call at 734 927-9782 so we can discuss how the new guidelines will effect your matter.