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What Is Child Support And How Does It Work?

When Is Child Support Required? 

Child support must be addressed in every custody or parenting time order. Child support is governed by the Michigan Child Support Formula, which is a numerical formula written directly into the statute. The formula takes into account both parties' incomes, minus certain deductions, the percentage of overnight parenting time each party has and an allocation of child-care and health care premium expenses. 

Typically, there would not be child support while the parties are still living together, as they would maintain the financial status quo as to payment of expenses in a manner similar to prior to the matter being filed.

Judges are required to order child support pursuant to the Michigan Child Support Formula at the conclusion of any case for divorce, custody, paternity or separate maintenance (legal separation). If the parties wish to deviate from the formula, they must first inform the judge what the support amount would have been pursuant to the formula and indicate why it would be in the child's best interest to deviate from this amount.

A deviation from the formula could be due to a separate arrangement to share expenses for the child, such as travel expenses if the parties live far apart, special needs of the child or other property settlement considerations between the parties. The judge would make a finding either in court or in the Judgment that this is acceptable.

Parties should keep in mind that child support is always modifiable upon a change of circumstances, which means if they give something up in order to avoid child support, the other parent could seek to have it ordered down the road. 

When Is The Best Time For A Parent To File For Child Support?

Child support can be requested in any case involving minor children at the outset of the proceedings. Normally, child support is paid when the parties live in separate residences. If the parents are separated at the time, child support can be ordered retroactive to when that case is filed.

What Determines The Payment Amount For Child Support?

Child support is governed by the Michigan Child Support Formula, which is a numerical formula written directly into the statute. The formula takes into account both parties' incomes minus certain deductions, the percentage of overnight parenting time each party has and an allocation of child care and health care premium expenses.

How Long Is A Parent Legally Required To Pay Child Support? Are There Extenuating Circumstances That Would Require A Parent To Pay Child Support For A Longer Period Of Time? 

Child support is payable until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever comes first. If a child has not graduated from high school when he or she turns 18, child support may continue until graduation but not beyond age 19 years, 6 months. In order for child support to continue after the child turns 18, the child must live with the payee parent full time, or attend a residential high school and be taking enough classes to graduate by age 19 ½.

The parties may agree to continue support beyond age 18 and graduation from high school, but there are no provisions for support to be ordered by a court. Parties often put provisions for college education expenses in their judgments of divorce which are enforceable.

If a parent is caring for an adult child with special needs, that circumstance could be relevant in that party seeking spousal support from the other parent.

If you're preparing for divorce, contact the American Divorce Association for Men for a FREE initial telephone consultation at (248) 327-0050, and get the information and legal answers you're seeking.

About ADAM (American Divorce Association for Men)

The American Divorce Association for Men (ADAM) is a group of highly qualified attorneys who advocate for men’s rights in divorce, child custody and parenting time, paternity, support, property settlement, post judgment modifications, and other family law matters. Since 1988, ADAM has been aggressive, diligent, and uncompromising when representing their clients. A team of compassionate and skilled family law attorneys, ADAM is dedicated to being Michigan’s leading divorce attorneys for men.

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