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Nine Michigan Child Support Issues in 2009

9. How is child support determined? This varies from state to state, but normally it is a formula that looks at the income of both parents, the amount of time that the child or children spend with each parent, and then a computer formula is run to come up with the appropriate amount of child support.

8. At what age does child support normally end? Normally it ends when a child reaches the age of majority, but this may differ from state to state. In Michigan, for example, child support ends when a child is eighteen (18), or finishes high school, whichever is later, but not beyond age 19 and a half.

7. I am paying child support, and feel that my former wife who is receiving it, is spending it frivolously. Does she have to account for it? The answer is no. Child support is supposed to be for your child or children, but there is no accounting required. It normally includes payment towards housing, utilities, food, clothing, gasoline, entertainment, etc. In most instances, the cost of raising a child is far less than the amount of child support being paid and received.

6. Is child support modifiable? Absolutely. It is always modifiable based upon changes in circumstances, including someone receiving a promotion and raise, someone losing a job, and especially in this tough economy, job losses and reduction in salaries happen all too frequently and are a reason for modifying child support.

5. Does child support include extra-curricular activities? That depends, and this is a question that you should ask your attorney. In many cases, I will negotiate a settlement of a divorce that includes child support, and also has an agreement that extra-curricular activities such as soccer, ice-skating, hockey, dance, boy scouts, girl scouts, tutoring, music lessons, etc. are not to be part of child support and are to be paid either based upon an agreement, a formula, or percentage. This is something that should be discussed on a case by case basis with your attorney.

4. If I’m not receiving child support, is that a reason for denying parenting time/visitation? The answer, no it is not. Those are separate things, and if you are not receiving child support, you should have the parent who owes you the money taken to court based upon what is called a show cause for non-payment of child support. This is often done with an attorney, or in many states, is done by an arm of the Friend of the Court, such as a Friend of the Court and an attorney is not necessary.

3. How often should child support be reviewed? Again, that varies from state to state, and normally, for example in Michigan where I practice, child support is reviewed approximately every three (3) years, unless there is some substantial change in circumstances, such as a job loss, or a promotion or drastic change in income.

2. If I am seeking a modification or review of child support, how long does that take? It normally takes two to three months, again, depending on how back-logged the system is, and how your courts work depending on the state or county where you are filing for a modification to increase or decrease child support.

1. If I am seeking child support, or change in child support, what preparation should I do before meeting with an attorney? Have your income information, including pay stubs and tax returns. Have income information not only from your employment, but also if you have any income producing assets such as savings or stocks or bonds, this should be included. If you know the other party’s income, such as a former spouse, or the parent in the event that the parties were never married, this information will also be helpful. Your attorney, before filing, can run computer guidelines to give you an idea as to what to expect, and whether or not it is worth filing a petition to set or modify child support.

Is there interest on child support arrearages? Yes there is. And this will accrue at a judgment rate, with the rate varying from state to state. Interest and surcharges can mount very rapidly.

In addition to a show cause, what other means of enforcement is there for payment of arrearages? The federal government will intercept income tax refunds, a drivers license can be taken, a hunting or fishing license can be taken. There can be a bench warrant and an arrest and incarceration for non-payment of child support.