Child support is a parent’s court-ordered payment to help with the costs of raising a child. Child support normally stops when a child turns 18. But a judge can order support for a child who is between 18 and 19 ½ if the child (1) Attends high school full-time, (2) Has a reasonable expectation of graduating, and (3) Lives full-time with the parent that gets child support or at an institution.
Child support is considered a legal right of the child to receive financial support from both parents. A parent can’t avoid paying child support by agreeing not to have parenting time (visitation) or by giving up their child. Additionally, child support and visitation are two separate issues. This means that if your child’s other parent isn’t current on their support obligation, you cannot limit parenting time as a way to enforce child support.
The Michigan Child Support Formula determines which parent will pay child support and the support amount, based on factors including each parent’s income and the number of overnights per year that the child spends with each parent. The person who pays child support is considered the “payer.” The person who gets child support is considered the “payee.” If the payee or the child gets public assistance, the child support payments may go to the state instead of the payee.
Child support normally includes a base amount, plus amounts for health care and childcare costs. The amount of child support is calculated using the Michigan Child Support Formula. It takes into account the following factors: (1) The parents’ incomes, (2) The number of overnights per year the child spends with each parent, (3) The number of children supported, (4) Health care costs a parent may be paying; (5) Child care costs, and (6) Other factors.
The judge must order support according to the Formula unless the result would be unfair or inappropriate.
After a child support order is entered, the Michigan State Disbursement Unit (MiSDU) and the Freind of the Court (FOC) work together to collect and distribute child support payments. In most cases, child support payments are automatically withheld from the payer’s wages, via an income withholding order, and MiSDU forwards them to the payee.
Sometimes income withholding is not possible because the payer is self-employed or for other reasons. In those cases, there are other ways to make payments. The payer can make payments directly to MiSDU, or in some limited cases to the FOC. Sometimes the parties agree to an alternative payment arrangement. If payments are not made through MiSDU or the FOC, the parties must keep accurate records to ensure proper credit is shown for payments made.