In a divorce case, the determination of child support is based on three factors: the income of the payor, the income of the payee, and the number of overnight parenting time assigned to each party. We enter this information into computer software that determines the correct amount of child support under the Michigan child support mandatory guidelines. These guidelines dictate the appropriate amount of child support regardless of how many children are involved. The parties cannot deviate from these guidelines unless the court agrees to the deviation. In other words, if the parties agree that the support should be greater or less than what the guidelines say, then they would have to get approval from a judge. If the parties have reached an agreement on everything (including child support) in a way that deviates from the guidelines, a judge would most likely approve the agreement as part of the complete settlement issue. Custody, parenting time, and support issues are always modifiable upon a change of circumstance or just cause until the children turn 18 years of age. However, once a property settlement has been reached, it cannot be modified.
Child support is either paid directly to the spouse, or through the system in Lansing under the Uniform Child Support Order. The money would be taken directly from the payor and would go to MiSDU and then directly to the payee, which is similar to the way that garnishment works.
We sometimes deal with cases that involve non-payment of child and/or spousal support. The parties can ask for assistance through the friend of the court, but sometimes that’s less than satisfactory. We can help by trying to get what we call a “show cause” hearing to determine why the payor isn’t paying child support, why they should not be held in contempt of court for failing to pay, and why there is an arrearage in child support. The same can be done if one parent denies the other the parenting time in accordance with the judgment.
Child support can still be awarded if the parents share equal parenting time. For example, if one parent earns a considerably higher income than the other, then the guidelines would dictate that the higher earner pays child support to the parent who earns less. If the incomes earned by each party are very similar, then child support might not be ordered. Under such circumstances, a deviation from the guidelines may be appropriate.
There are three actions regarding the dissolution of a marriage in Michigan. Divorce is the complete dissolution of a marriage. In Michigan, there is also something called a judgment of Separate Maintenance, which is when parties go through the same process as a divorce but are not completely divorced. A judgment of separate maintenance can divide all of the assets, set the child custody arrangement, and set the parenting time arrangement.
The difference between a separate maintenance judgement and a divorce is that with the former, the parties are not eligible to remarry since they are not officially divorced. This option was initially used for people who felt that they could not divorce due to religious reasons. It’s an unusual action, but it is still on the books. If someone files a complaint for separate maintenance and the opposing party counteracts with a complaint for a judgment of divorce, then the court must grant the judgment of divorce and not the judgment of separate maintenance. If there is a judgment of separate maintenance and ultimately one of the parties wants a divorce, then they have to file for a divorce.
The other option is annulment, which is based on the fact that the marriage is void or voidable. A marriage is void if one party was not of age or was still married to someone else. A marriage is voidable if it is found that fraud contributed to the inception of the marriage. It’s often tough to prove that fraud existed. Candidly, a divorce is much more prevalent than either a judgment of separate maintenance or a judgment of annulment.
When going to an initial consultation with an attorney, it is important that a person bring information regarding assets, earnings, the goals of the divorce, and the discussions that have occurred between them and their spouse. If a spouse anticipates a physical confrontation with their spouse or suspects that they might try to hide assets after learning that the filing for divorce may occur, then that information should be made known to the attorney. Once a divorce is final, the general rule is that a party cannot move beyond 100 miles of their residence or from the state with the children. There are certain factors that must be determined before a parent would be allowed to move their children more than 100 miles from their current residence, or from the state, without the approval of the other party or of the court.
For more information on Determining Child Support In A Divorce, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (248) 869-0030 today.