THE NUTS AND BOLTS OF CHILD SUPPORT

WHAT IS CHILD SUPPORT

Child support is a parent's court ordered payment paid to the other party, and used to assist with the cost of raising the children. As children have a right to financial support from both parents, a parent can't avoid paying child support by voluntarily terminating their parental rights.

TERMINOLOGY

The person paying support is known as the payor. The person receiving support payments is known as the payee.

WHO IS ENTITLED TO COLLECT CHILD SUPPORT

Often clients ask who is entitled to receive child support. A person is entitled to receive child support if they are the parent of a minor child (or is the person with custody of a minor child), the minor child lives in the person's home, the child is financially dependent on that person, or one or both of the child's parents are not living with the child.

CALCULATION OF CHILD SUPPORT

The amount of child support the payor will be required to pay the payee is calculated using the Michigan Child Support Formula. It takes into account the following:

•           The gross incomes of both parties

•           The amount of overnights of each parent

•           The number of minor children to be supported

•           The cost of health insurance

•           The cost of daycare expenses

•           Which party will be claiming the tax exemptions of the minor children

REVIEW OF CHILD SUPPORT

Many client want to know if they can change the amount of child support they are receiving. Either parent may ask the court to change to support amount when there is a significant change in circumstances. The parent seeking modification would be required to file a motion asking for the child support amount to be changed. If it has been less than 36 months since the last child support order was entered, the judge may modify it only upon finding a substantial change in circumstance.

Examples of substantial changes in circumstance would be if the payor (person making payment of child support) becomes disabled. Another example would be if either party has a significant increase or decrease in their incomes. Note, the support amount remains in effect until a new court order goes into effect.

As the issues surrounding child support are complex, you should seek the advice of a family law attorney.

Laurie Schmitt of Schmitt Law, PLLC is a West Michigan family law attorney specializing in collaborative divorce as well as separation, divorce, child custody and support, paternity, and other family law litigation. She is licensed by Michigan State Bar and the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan, and has extensive advanced training in divorce mediation and collaborative divorce. Contact Laurie at (616) 608-4634 for a confidential consultation.

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