Every child has an inherent right to receive support from his or her natural or adoptive parents. Our courts calculate support based on the Michigan Child Support Formula developed by the Friend of the Court Bureau and updated for economic changes. You can find the Michigan Child Support Manual online at www.courts.mi.gov.
If you have minor children at the time of your divorce, you will either pay or receive support for them. The court orders child support consisting of not only cash payment, but apportionment of healthcare expenses, health insurance premiums and childcare costs.
The courts are authorized to “enter orders concerning the care, custody, and support of the minor children of the parties during the pendency of the action” (Michigan Compiled Laws Section 552.15). The court will probably enter a temporary support order early in your divorce. As with other temporary orders, if the order is entered on an ex parte basis, either by motion of one party or on recommendation of the Friend of the Court, the court will issue a notice of the right to object to the order. If one of the parties files an objection to the temporary support order, the court will schedule a hearing, at which the judge will either affirm or modify the order.
In many cases, the payor of support falls into arrears early on due to the delay between filing the complaint for divorce and entry of the first support order. Support generally begins at the date of filing the complaint for divorce, and if the temporary order does not take effect until 4 to 6 weeks after the complaint is filed, the payor will be faced with a significant arrearage. When one parent pays support directly to the other during this lag time, the parent making the payment should obtain a written receipt from the other and furnish this to the Friend of the Court, preferably prior to or at the coordination conference. This enables the Friend of the Court to give the payor credit against arrearages.
Every child support order must incorporate a written support calculation based on the Michigan Support Formula. If the order deviates from the formula, it must identify what support would be if the formula is applied, as compared to the deviation.
The courts nearly always award child support consistent with the Michigan Child Support Formula. If the court determines that application of the formula would be unjust, the support order may deviate from it. However, if there is a deviation, the support order must specifically state why it is deviating from the support guidelines. The Michigan Child Support Formula sets forth numerous grounds for deviation from the formula. In addition, where the parents agree to deviate, and have set forth facts in support of that deviation, the court may enter support based upon the agreement.
Child support is a relatively complicated area of the law, as the formulas are constantly changing, and calculation can be challenging. Whether you are concerned about child support in the context of an ongoing divorce, or need to modify your support for any reason, I have extensive experience in child support matters and would be happy to assist you in reaching a resolution. Call my Holland, Michigan office today to arrange a complimentary consultation.
© 2021 Thomas C. Kates, Attorney and Mediator