A child’s biological parents have a duty under Michigan law to care for, educate, and help support their children. Some parents reach an agreement amongst themselves, without the interference of the court. However, the law requires that once an action for divorce, separate maintenance, paternity, or child support action is filed with the court, the court must make a determination as to what the appropriate amount of child support is under the Michigan Child Support Formula.
The Michigan Child Support Formula regulates and calculates child support and several factors go into the court’s determination of what is an appropriate child support amount, including the parties’ incomes, their tax status, the parenting time schedule of each parent with each child, out-of-pocket health insurance costs, tax considerations, whether either party has a second family, and when applicable, child care or day care costs. Child support calculation programs, called, prognosticators, can be utilized to discuss anticipated child support amounts with clients when they have their initial consultation at Harris Law, which may influence the approach a party may choose to make when filing an action with the court.
When one parent is not working, or is underemployed, the court may consider and/or determine that imputation of potential income is appropriate.
In some circumstances, the court may deviate from the Michigan Child Support Formula. If the court deviates from the recommended child support, the court must state, either on the record or in writing, the reason for the deviation.
Child support is ordinarily ordered to be paid until the child reaches age 18 or graduates from high school but not beyond 19 years and 6 months of age, whichever occurs later.
The court has the discretion to deviate from the Michigan Child Support Formula in situations where the court orders it appropriate and it is requested by the parties. When the court does deviate from the Michigan Child Support Formula, the court must state, either on the record or in writing, the reason for the deviation. Factors the court may consider to deviate are as follows:
- The child has special needs.
- The child has extraordinary educational expense.
- One or both of the parties are minors.
- The child’s residence income is below the threshold to qualify for public assistance, and at least one party has sufficient income to pay additional support that will raise the child’s standard of living above the public assistance threshold.
- A parent has a reduction in the income available to support a child due to extraordinary levels of jointly accumulated debt.
- The court awards property in lieu of support for the benefit of the child.
- One or both parents are incarcerated with minimal or no income or assets.
- One or both parents have incurred, or are likely to incur, extraordinary medical expenses either for themselves or dependants.
- One or both parents earn incomes of magnitude not fully taken into consideration by the formula.
- One or both parents receive bonus income in varying amounts or at irregular intervals.
- Someone other than the parent can supply reasonably and appropriate health coverage.
- A parent provides substantially all the support for a stepchild, and the stepchild’s parents earn no income and are unable to earn income.
- A child earns an extraordinary income.
- The court orders a parent to pay taxes, mortgage installments, home insurance premiums, telephone or utility bills, etc., before entry of a final judgment or order.
- A parent must pay significant amounts of restitution, fines, fees, or costs associated with that parent’s conviction or incarceration for a crime other than those related to failing to support children, or a crime against a child in the current case or that child’s sibling, other parent, or custodian.
- A parent makes payments to a bankruptcy plan or has debt discharged, when either significantly impacts the monies that parent has available to pay support.
- A parent provides a substantial amount of a child’s day-time care and directly contributes toward a significantly greater share of the child’s costs than those reflected by the overnights used to calculate the offset for parental time.
- Any other factor the court deems relevant to the best interest of the child.
These are the factors the court may consider to deviate from the Michigan Child Support Formula in situations where the court orders it appropriate and it is requested by the parties.
Imputation of Income
There are cases where the court will considering imputing potential income due to a party under reporting their income, claiming the inability to work, or intentionally choosing to be underemployed to influence the amount of child support they pay or receive.
The court may consider certain factors to determine whether the parent in question has an actual ability to earn an income or greater income, and the reasonable amount of that potential income. To help determine what the potential income of the parent is, the court may consider the following factors:
- Prior employment experience and history, including reasons for any termination or changes in employment.
- Educational level and any special skills or training.
- Physical and mental disabilities that may affect a parent’s ability to obtain or maintain gainful employment.
- Availability for work (excluding periods when a parent could not work or seek work, ie., hospitalization, incarceration, debilitating illness, etc.
- Availability of opportunities to work in the local geographical area.
- The prevailing wage rates in the local geographic area.
- Diligence exercised in seeking appropriate employment.
- Evidence that the parent in question is able to earn the imputed income.
- Personal history, including present marital status and present means of support.
- The presence of the parties’ children in the parent’s home and its impact on that parent’s earnings.
- Whether there has been a significant reduction in income compared to the period that preceded the filing of the initial complaint or the motion for modification.
If the court decides that it is appropriate to impute income in a specific case, other considerations should also be considered, such as additional child care costs that would result, as well as the tax considerations for the imputed income.
Child Care or Day Care Costs
The Michigan Child Support Formula takes into consideration that there are situations where child care or day care costs may be required when either parent goes to work or school, and how those costs should be apportioned.
Except in extraordinary cases, which is within the discretion of the court, in typical cases, child care costs are to terminate on August 31 on the year following the 12th birthday of the minor child.
Healthcare and Uninsured Medical Costs
Medical expenses that exceed the ordinary health care expense amount ($345.00 per child per year) included in the Michigan Child Support Formula are called “Uninsured Medical Care Expenses.” Those expenses are typically divided between the parties proportionate to their income. Per the Michigan Child Support Formula, these expenses do not include routine remedial care costs, such as Tylenol, cough syrup, vitamins, etc. These costs are presumed to be covered by the basic child support paid and received.
Once an order for child support has been entered, if the payer of child support does not pay child support in compliance with that order, the recipient of child support has the right to seek enforcement of that order. Every county handles these types of cases differently.
If a party wishes to seek enforcement of child support on their own, typically they will file a motion to show cause, which if granted by the court requires the payer to appear at a set time and date to explain why he or she has failed to pay child support as ordered.
A payer of child support who has failed to comply with the court order may be subject to a contempt proceeding, loss of their driver’s license, suspension of their passport, loss of a professional license, tax interception, or jail time, just to name a few.
The statue of limitations to enforce past due child support arrears is 10 years.
Child Support Attorney Gaylord MI
Navigating laws regarding child support in Michigan is difficult. Choosing an attorney who can help you is important for you and your family. Harris Law is a child support attorney in Gaylord MI.