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Child Support
by Gail Pamukov

In Michigan, the legislature and Courts have decided that each child has an inherent right to the financial support of his or her natural or adoptive parents. The legislature has passed several Acts that require that child support be paid. They include the Divorce Act, the Paternity Act and the Family Support Act. In some instances, the Courts of Michigan have required that child support be paid under various theories of equity. Child support is paid until a child turns 18 and graduates from high school. It may be paid through the age of 19 1/2 if certain statutory requirements are met.

Child support is calculated using the Michigan Child Support Guidelines (“Guidelines”). The Guidelines are based primarily on the incomes of the parties. Deviations from the Guidelines are unusual and require that the Court analyze why application of the Guidelines would be unjust and inapplicable in a particular case. Most of the time, the family court judge of the Circuit Court will order that child support be paid as calculated under the Guidelines. Either party may ask the family court judge or Friend of the Court to recalculate child support if incomes and circumstances change

By statute, child support provided for in an order or judgment must be paid by an order of income withholding. Which means that the person who must pay support, i.e. the payer will be subject to an order that subtracts the amount of child support due, usually with a service fee and if applicable, an arrearage amount, from the payers wages. The amount is then forwarded to the recipient of support, i.e. the payee.

If child support is not paid, the amount of unpaid support is known as an arrearage. The recipient of child support may ask that the family court judge or the Friend of the Court enforce an order of child support through tax intercept, liens of real or personal property, suspension of drivers or professional license, and/or by contempt proceedings. Non – payment of child support is also a felony and may result in four years of incarceration and/or a fine up to $2,000.00.

Source: Michigan Family Law, Child Support, ICLE 2004.