Divorce and separation can be an extremely stressful experience, but even more so when children are involved. While many cases are dealt with amicably, in many more, one parent may try to avoid accepting financial responsibility for the children. When this does happen, you want to have the best family lawyers fighting your case to ensure responsibilities are met and the children are provided for.
Michigan Child Support Guidelines
Michigan’s guidelines on child support state that a child must be provided for until the age of 18. However, this can be extended to the age of 19.5 where the child still resides with the parent in receipt of child support and if the child is still attending high school.
When calculating the amounts to be included in a child support order, the court considers the following elements:
- How many children are to be supported
- The parents incomes
- Any relevant healthcare costs
- How much time the child spends with each parent (based on overnight stays)
- Any childcare costs
- Other financial aspects the court feels is relevant
Generally speaking, any award tends to be in the range of 15-25% of the non-custodial parent’s gross income, though this may be greater depending on number of children. Attorneys use an online calculator to determine what child support is due, and individuals can also access this to gauge what their children should receive or what they should pay.
When to Hire Michigan Child Support Lawyers
Child support levels can often be initially agreed between parents. But in some circumstances, as the divorce and child custody case progresses, then disagreements can arise. Or perhaps there has been no agreement at all and the parent with custody is receiving no support.
Children are the innocent victims when divorce or separation occurs and having an experienced family law attorney representing you does not only ensure the children’s best interests are put forward, but it can often prevent disagreements and make the entire process easier and smoother.
Protecting the Legal Interests of Your Child to Receive Financial Support
By engaging a law firm with experience in family law, you are helping to protect your children’s interests and their rights under Michigan state law to receive financial support.
Family law matters can often become very complicated and confrontational but our involvement is focused on the children and ensuring they have the financial support they need.
Michigan’s Child Support Guideline Manual
Child support issues are an important part of any familial separation. Family law can be complicated and can create several legal issues. An experienced family law attorney in Detroit, Michigan can help guide you through the various aspects of the case. There is also a guidance manual which explains how child support issues are worked out.
While some parts of the regulations may seem confusing at first, your attorney will always be happy to explain anything you do not understand or can refer you to resources which set out the guidelines in clear detail.
What if Your Spouse Fails to Pay the Court-Ordered Child Support?
Even where there is a court mandate for a parent to pay child support in Southeastern Michigan, there will often be cases where, for a variety of reasons, the payments are not made or fall into significant arrears.
If this does happen, you or the law office representing you can contact the Michigan Department of Human Services, Friend of the Court who are responsible for enforcing any child support order.
They have many legal options open to them in pursuing unpaid support or arrears. These include:
- Arrestment of a portion of the parent’s salary.
- Placing liens on any property or possessions the parent owns.
- Diverting payments from any workers compensation benefits.
- Suspension of state or federal licenses which may include driving, sports, or occupation-related licenses.
- Withholding payments from any unemployment benefits.
- Revoking a passport – or denying an application for one – where they reach an arrears threshold of $2,500.
- Noting arrears on credit reports.
- Issuing of a bench warrant for arrest.
- Filing a contempt of court motion which may result in a prison sentence.
In some cases, the Michigan Department of Human Services may decide to refer the case of non-payment or arrears to the county prosecutor. The county prosecutor can then decide to lay a non-support felony charge against the parent. This usually only happens when other methods of collecting due payments have failed, though the parent with custody can request such a prosecution.
If a significant amount of arrears have amassed, the court may decide to call a contempt hearing. In cases where the court feels that the parent can pay some or all of the outstanding amount but has chosen not to, they can impose any of the penalties listed above but may also add other penalties such as fines or time in jail.
Child Support Modifications
While the court takes a very serious view of a parent avoiding payment or refusing to pay, it also recognizes that people’s circumstances, including financial income, can change over time. When this happens, the parent paying child support can contact the court and request a modification to the existing order.
The court will then schedule a hearing at which the parent can present their case as to why the amount should be changed. The reasons for such a request can vary greatly, but can include a change in employment – where income has substantially decreased – as well as a change in the children’s financial needs or a significant health condition that has led to high medical bills.
The court will require a strong evidential case, so a parent needs to be able to present documents confirming their claims.
If either parent is receiving any form of public assistance, then the Michigan Department of Human Service will automatically review the order every 36 months.
The idea of separation or divorce is an uncomfortable one that we all hope we never have to face. But if it does happen, then the rights of any children are of paramount importance.
Michigan Premier Law are experts in all types of family law who offer professional advice and representation to achieve the best possible outcome for your children.
We offer a free initial consultation to discuss your case and advise you on the best way to progress. If you would like to book an appointment with one of our family law specialists, please call us now on 248-688-0045.