Michigan Child Support
UPDATED: March 1, 2012
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Michigan child support laws ensure that a non-custodial parent pays his or her share of medical expenses, health insurance costs and the general costs of raising a child. The Department of Human Services (DHS) is responsible for overseeing child support and has established a child support program to help parents who either receive or pay support.
Child Support in Michigan may be obtained only during divorce cases, family support cases, paternity cases, or separate maintenance cases. All of these proceedings are complicated and best handled by a family law attorney.
Calculating Michigan Child Support
In Michigan, the Friends of the Court has established a uniform child support formula to ensure that all kids get the same access to support. Courts use this formula in issuing a support order unless one or both parents presents persuasive evidence as to why it is not appropriate.
In creating the formula, the Friends of the Court recognizes that parents who make more money spend more on the care of their children. As such, the first step in determining how much support a child is entitled to involves calculating the total family income, taking into account how much each parent makes and subtracting for income taxes and other eligible deductions, such as existing child support obligations.
Once the parent's combined total income is determined, factoring in income from all sources including wages and military benefits, then a table called the General Care Support Table is used to determine how much the family as a whole should spend on their kids. There are different support amounts for each income bracket and different amounts based on the total number of kids in the family.
The required amount as determined by the General Care Support table is referred to as the basic support obligation. The court will then add to this basic support amount the actual costs of child care, as well as the cost of medical expenses and health insurance.
Each parent will pay a percentage of this total support amount based on the percentage of the total family income he/she earns. For instance, if the combined family income is $1000 and $800 of that income is earned by the father, he would be responsible for 80 percent of the total costs of support.
If the parents share custody, it is assumed that some of this support cost will be paid out in actually caring for the child. As such, the final step involves reducing the support obligation of the parent paying support based on the percentage of the time that the child spends with him or her.
Child Support Enforcement
The Michigan State Disbursement Unit (MiSDU) is responsible for overseeing child support payments in the state of Michigan. In 74 percent of child support cases in the state, employers automatically withhold child support payments from the parent's paycheck and send them directly to the MiSDU. The MiSDU then distributes the money to the custodial parent on a monthly basis.
However, if a parent does fail to pay child support in Michigan, Friends of the Court enforces the child support order. Enforcement begins when a parent is one support payment behind. Child support enforcement methods in Michigan include driver's license suspension, wage garnishment, suspending occupational licenses, reporting the delinquent payments to the credit bureaus, seizing tax refunds, placing liens on property, and even felony prosecution.
Modifying Support Orders
Child support orders are reviewed every three years in the state of Michigan. Review is automatic in cases where public assistance is being paid. In other cases, either party may make a written request for review. Written requests to review and modify a support order may also be made at other times if circumstances have changed significantly for either parent.
Parents who have not specifically declined help from Friends of the Court may receive their help modifying their child support orders.