Obviously any marriage or partnership works best between compatible mates and complimentary personalities, but what happens when the relationship sours and these former uniform beliefs and compatibility are suddenly destroyed? Well, as adults we learn to let go and move on, but what if there are children involved? What happens then? Who is going to be financially responsible for them and in what capacity?
That’s where child support laws come into play. And whether you are the parent who will be responsible to pay child support, let’s call you the “payer”, or the parent who will be collecting, the “payee”, you need to have a full understanding of what child support is, how it fits in with child custody, how it can be obtained, how it is enforced, how you can protect yourself and your child, and how a MI family lawyer can provide you with assistance.
While some couples are able to amicably come to an agreement and arrangement for the financial support of their children, others are not so lucky. In these instances, one parent will seek legal help from a family lawyer and the court system. No matter what side of the coin you’re on, you will need an attorney who is well experienced in child support proceedings on your side to protect you and the best interest of your child. Michigan family laws are strict in establishing child support payments and in enforcing them, so you need a trusted and experienced Michigan family law attorney to handle your matter. That is why you will be relieved to have Downriver Lawyer on your side.
What is Child Support?
What is child support as defined in the legal system in MI?
Child support is money paid by a parent to meet the financial needs of his/her child, whether voluntarily or court ordered, in order to help with the costs related to raising that child after a divorce, legal separation, paternal determinations and/or custody cases.
Children are dependent on adults; at least until they are 18 years old, and require their parents’ financial support for a stable upbringing, whether or not both parents are involved in the child’s life.
Child custody payments, if court ordered, are calculated based on the parents’ income and typically terminate once the child reaches the age of 18, with a small caveat. Sometimes such payments may be extended until the child reaches 19.5 years of age if that child is still in high school and living full-time with his/her parent, or in high school and living in an institution. Regardless, it is in the child’s best interest that he/she receives the financial support that all children deserve
Too often people mistaken child support for a way for one parent to take revenge against another for a failed relationship. However, the laws in MI and the court system ensure that neither parent is benefiting from the payment or lack of payment of child support, or using child support as a form of penalty pursuant to custody or visitation disputes. After all, the theory behind child support is to protect and provide for the best interest of your child.
Why does the Payer have to pay child support?
If you are the “payer” in this scenario, you’re probably asking yourself why you have to pay child support if you have never lived with the child, or the child is currently living with the other parent and you have no custody or visitation rights.
If you’re the “payee” you are probably wondering if you can hold the other parent responsible for payment of your child’s financial needs even if you were never legally married to him/her, or he/she no longer has any contact with you, or you have a court order against him/her due to a visitation dispute.
Remember, the concept behind child support is not to punish, but rather to protect the child and provide for the child’s well being. And that is how both parties should look at child support proceedings. The attorneys at Downriver Lawyer have years of experience on both ends of the spectrum and ensure that this legal protection is not used frivolously by either party.
Children have a legal right to financial support from both parents. Therefore, if a child resides with one parent who bears the daily financial burden of raising that child, the other parent needs to be equally responsible in their burden to also provide for their child. In Michigan, the payer cannot evade the obligation of paying child support once a determination has been made by the MI Court system in child support proceedings, even if they give up their child custody rights or visitation rights or if the court takes their custody or visitation rights away for the protection of the child.
How does the Court in MI Calculate Child Support Payments?
Once the Court has determined that child support is required, the next step is to calculate the amount owed. The Michigan Family Court uses a number of factors in determining the payment due for child support.
- Both parents’ income: The income of both parties will be calculated to determine who is better suited to provide for the child and in what capacity;
- Custody arrangement and parenting time arrangements: The Court will also determine how much time each parent spends with the child and the expenses involved for the care of that child during that time period;
- Number of children supported: The Court also takes into consideration how many children will require support in determining the amount of payment;
- Medical costs: Depending on the child’s specific needs, medical costs are another consideration in determining support payments;
- Other factors: Other factors such as special needs of the child, or other financial burdens of the parents will be evaluated.
While the payer and the payee may independently come to an arrangement for child support payments, if your case has already gone through the Court system, Michigan Courts require notice of such agreements, and ultimately they will choose whether or not to accept the agreement between the parties. In order to ensure that your arrangement with your partner will be accepted without additional burden set by the court, have our expert attorneys handle your court matter to save you the time and expenses associated with additional requirements imposed by the state of Michigan.
What if the Payer fails to pay?
Naturally, at some point, the payer will fail to make one or more payments as required by the court order. It may be intentional, out of spite, or simply due to the loss of the payer’s job. So what happens then?
When it comes to collection of child support payments, the state of Michigan has two agencies that jointly ensure the collection of such payments from the payer. The Michigan State Disbursement Unit (“MiSDU”) and the Friend of the Court (“FOC”) work hand in hand to obtain payments to the payer and deliver it to the payee.
If there are obstacles in the continuous cooperation of the payer, these two agencies will step in and automatically withhold the payment amount directly from the payer’s paycheck. But what if the payer is self-employed and there is no paycheck to withhold from? Our lawyers in Downriver work closely with MiSDU in those instances to ensure direct payment from the payer to avoid any future penalties.
If you are the payee, you need a legal expert such as Downriver Lawyer on your side to ensure the payments that you rely on, without any interruption. And if you are the payer, our lawyers will ensure that you will continue to abide by the court order so that you are not exposed to any harsh consequences. The attorneys at Downriver Lawyer wear many hats and have a wide array of experience in protecting both parties, no matter what side you find yourself on
What if the Payer is Past-Due in Payments?
In instances where the payer is past due in payments, better know as “arrearages” the Michigan agencies will step in to enforce collection. Some methods of collections used are:
- Withholding of wages
- Court Contempt Proceedings
- Garnishment of tax refunds, State and Federal
- Placement of liens on personal property
- Suspension of driving, occupational or recreational licenses
If the payer is so far behind in payments, jail time may even be imposed along with hefty fines. If you are the payer in this situation, consult with us today to ensure that this does not happen to you. Our lawyers have earned a reputation for successfully negotiating these circumstances to avoid severe legal repercussions. That is why Downriver Lawyer is rated with the highest level of satisfaction as Child Support Lawyers in MI.
Can Child Support be Modified?
Whether you’re the payer or the payee, this question will always linger in your mind. Mismanaged child support from either party will always result in modification by one party, but can only be done by motioning the court.
Your child’s needs shift as he/she gets older or requires special or additional needs. So do child support payments up to and until that child turns 19.5 years of age (as mentioned earlier).
The expertise of Downriver Lawyer can help you (the payer or the payee) modify these orders even after the MiSDU 36 monthly review and determinations. You will need an attorney with experience and an understanding of the needs of your family and your ability to provide for them given your particular circumstances in order to petition the Michigan court to increase or decrease the set payments.
The attorneys at Downriver Lawyer have assisted in hundreds of cases to modify existing payments due to unemployment or a change in income earnings, the addition or loss of benefits, or new custody arrangements. It is important to have an analytical set of eyes and the expertise that Downriver Lawyer has built its reputation on in determining how to better serve your needs and ability to provide for your child. To get more information on family law and child support, visit http://downriverlawyer.com/services/family-law/
Remember, whether you are the payer or the payee, the legal team of experts at Downriver Lawyer are there to provide you with a thorough consultation and an explanation of all of your rights, while providing a human approach to what at first may appear to be a huge obstacle. The Downriver attorneys are well apprised of Michigan’s requirements on child support payments and have a strong reputation in working with both MiSDU and FOC in making for a smooth transition in a situation which oftentimes may not seem smooth given the fallout of the relationship between the couple. To schedule your consultation, call 734-619-1237 or contact us at www.downriverlawyer.com. Visit our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter to stay current on important family law topics and all of your general legal rights.