Recently, a client asked a question regarding a potential proposed change to the law that would greatly affect Michigan Parenting Time and Child Support. Under the proposed bill (HB 4691) that passed the House Judiciary Committee on June 20, 2017, absent reports of domestic violence, judges would be required to award joint legal custody of children to divorcing parents. It is important to remember that this is a PROPOSED bill, below is a summary of how child support is currently determined.
THE CURRENT SYSTEM
In Michigan, both parents are legally required to contribute to the support of their children. When parents live apart, even if they are sharing custody of the children, the court will almost always order child support. Parents cannot bargain away this responsibility, for example, by offering a larger property settlement in exchange for not having to pay child support. This is because in Michigan, child support is owed to the children--not to the other parent.
CALCULATING CHILD SUPPORT
Generally speaking, each parent pays child support for the benefit of the children when they are in the other parent's care. Because it would not make sense for both parents to pay each other, the amounts are offset against each other, and one parent pays the other.
Michigan courts calculate child support payments by using the rather complex Michigan Child Support Formula. This formula takes into account a number of variables, including:
· Each parent's net income
· How many overnights the children spend at each parent's home
· The cost of child care, if any, and which parent pays for it
· The cost of health insurance, and which parent pays for it
· Which parent claims the child/children as a dependent for tax purposes
· Any spousal support being paid
· Any additional child support obligations of either parent
· Each parent's potential earning capacity
If a child receives any public assistance--even if it is just state provided health insurance--Michigan judges are REQUIRED to order child support to be paid according to whatever result the Michigan Child Support Formula gives. And in ALL cases, unless parents agree to a different amount of support, the amount dictated by the formula must be ordered. Barry County attorney Steven G. Storrs has the knowledge to work with this formula and how it is used, how it can be manipulated, and how it can be abused. To learn more about factors that can affect Michigan child support, contact the Law Office of Steven G. Storrs.
MICHIGAN CHILD SUPPORT MODIFICATIONS
Of course, over time, custody and parenting time arrangements, parental income, and other factors that affect child support are likely to change. Child support can be modified, but only by the court that entered the original child support order. All child support cases are entitled to a review every 36 months, but parents may ask for a review sooner if they believe one is warranted.
A parent can request a modification through the Friend of the Court (FOC) office for the county in which their original child support order was entered. The parent must present evidence that at least one parent's financial situation has changed. The FOC will review the order and, if it believes a modification is appropriate, ask the court to modify the order. This entire process must take place within 180 days after the FOC begins its review.
Alternately, a parent, or his or her attorney, can file a motion for a modification of child support. This is often done when parents do not have the luxury of waiting several months for a determination.
Whether you are concerned about the prospect of an initial child support determination, or believe that a modification of your existing order is appropriate, Steven G. Storrs can advocate effectively for you. Steven knows how to fight for his clients' interests. He serves clients in Barry County as well as the surrounding Michigan counties, of Allegan, Calhoun, Ionia, Ingham, Kalamazoo, and Kent Counties.
If you would like to learn more about how Steven G. Storrs can help ensure you are paying or receiving the correct amount of child support, please contact 269-945-2242 or via the online contact form to schedule a consultation. I look forward to working with you.