Children are expensive. No matter the relationship between the parents of children, both are responsible under Michigan law to provide financial support until they become independent.

In addition to a child's basic needs of food, shelter, and clothing, financial support is necessary for their care, medical care, transportation, and education. These costs add up quickly over the years it takes for a child to become independent. In the meantime, both parents have to support them.

If you want to learn more about establishing a child support arrangement or if you can modify an existing child support order based on changing circumstances, you must talk to an experienced child support attorney.

For more than twenty years, Bowden Law, PLLC has provided legal guidance and support for clients in Mount Clemens, Michigan, and the surrounding areas, including Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne counties. I am honest and compassionate with my clients and a tough negotiator and litigator.

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What Do I Need to Know About
Child Support in Michigan?

Child support is the financial support the court orders to pay the cost of raising children. Parents who agree on a child support arrangement can submit it to the court for consideration. The court must issue a formal order so the parent receiving child support payments can hold the other parent accountable for making them and the parent paying gets the credit for making payments.

The court will issue a child support order as part of a divorce, paternity, or child custody case or as part of the child support case outside of these other types of cases.

There is no one-size-fits-all sum for each child. Instead, the court considers multiple factors specific to the parents and the child in determining the child support amount. Among the factors are:

  • The income each parent earns or the imputed income a parent should be earning

  • The number of times a child spends the night with a parent

  • The number of children each parent is obligated to support

  • The cost of childcare for the children

  • The cost of healthcare for the children

  • Any other factors are relevant to the child’s financial needs and the ability of parents to provide them.

The Michigan Child Support Formula calculates these factors to determine how much support each child should receive and which parent will pay support to the other parent. The “friend of the court” oversees compliance with the child support order.

The payer parent pays the Michigan State Disbursement Unit (MiSDU) so payments are accounted for. Payments can be made via garnishment of wages or other methods designed to make payments regular and uniform. The recipient parent then receives support from the MiSDU.

If a parent who receives child support is already receiving public assistance for the child, payments will go to the state instead of that parent. Such programs would include the child care assistance program or Medicaid.

Can an Existing Child Support Arrangement be Modified?

The circumstances of each parent and the child's needs the court uses the Michigan Child Support Formula may change after the child support order is issued. If there is a significant change in circumstances, either parent may ask the Friend of the Court to review the existing order to see if it can be modified. The difference between circumstances in the existing order and what payments would be given the new information must be 10% or $50 per month, whichever is greater.

For example, if a paying parent had a certain income at the time the original child support order was issued, then becomes disabled, and receives Social Security Disability Income, the difference in income may warrant modification of the order.

A significant increase in a parent’s income due to a promotion or inheritance could provide the basis for modification, as could an increase in the number of children a parent is obligated to support. A parent’s declaration of bankruptcy, involuntary job loss, incarceration, or a child’s extraordinary income are also factors that may lead to modification of an order.

Changes in the number of times children spend with each parent may warrant modifications of an existing child support order; however, that does not happen automatically when custody agreements change. A parent must request a review if they want the support order changed.

Although the Child Support Formula may appear complex to most people, an experienced child support lawyer will be able to estimate the potential for modifying an existing order. You should consult with one before requesting a review.

Child support is a court order which must be observed, even if parents mutually agree on changes. Failure to comply with a child support order has serious consequences.

Does Child Support End at Age 18?

When your child reaches the age of majority, which is 18 in Michigan, child support usually ends. Termination of child support may not occur until your child reaches age 19 and a half if still in high school and still living with the parent who receives child support payments.

There may be other circumstances that can terminate support, such as a minor child’s emancipation, marriage, or military enlistment. In any case, the paying parent must ask the court to terminate child support and continue paying support until an order is issued.

Child Support Attorney in Mount Clemens, MI

Child support is a complicated issue and an emotional one. It is common for parents to be at odds about child support even when both have their child’s best interests at heart. To establish child support or modify an existing order, seek help from a child support attorney who has helped hundreds of clients in Mount Clemens, Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne counties, Michigan. Contact Bowden Law, PLLC, to discuss your case. Call today to begin.