When it comes to child support, you should take the time to learn about your rights and responsibilities as a parent. Child support arrangements can be complex and require an overview of many different factors.

Thus, it is important to make sure you know what responsibilities you have in regards to child support. If you live in Michigan, the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (MDHHS) Office of Child Support can help educate you about these responsibilities and rights.

Michigan Family Law: Who Needs to Pay Child Support?

The parent with the majority of physical custody is called the custodial parent, while the other parent is called the noncustodial parent. Usually, child support is paid by the noncustodial parent to the custodial one. This arrangement is usually created because the custodial parent typically has more responsibilities, expenses, and considerations for the child than the noncustodial parent. 

However, the actual amount that each parent spend with the child is taken into consideration, and it can lead to a lower amount of child support if the noncustodial parent can prove that they are spending a lot of time caring for the child despite not having physical custody. By proving this, the noncustodial parent can demonstrate that they are providing more financial support by taking care of the child in person than the average noncustodial parent.

Michigan Family Law: How Can I Petition for Child Support?

To get child support, you must either apply online through MiChildSupport (Michigan’s child support website), or by mailing in a child support application. Before you do that, you must first establish who the biological parents are for the child. Once parentage of the child had been established and the application has been submitted, you will need to discuss your child support case with an attorney who will be assigned to obtain an order for you.

When you meet with the attorney, you will need to provide them with your pay stubs or W-2s, your income tax returns, the birth certificate of your child, your bank statements, your Social Security card, and your driver’s license or other photo identification.

Beyond that, you must also be prepared to provide information about the location of the other parent. One of the main things that can delay child support is if the other parent’s whereabouts are unknown. If you cannot provide their last known address, then be prepared to offer a photo, known aliases, last known employer, etc. anything that can help officials track down the other parent.

Michigan Family Law: How is Child Support Calculated?

Child support calculations can be complex and involve a number of different decisions and items that the court must review. Some of the factors that go into calculating child support in the state of Michigan can include:

  • The income level of each parent (and, in some cases, their spouses or partners as well, especially if they are providing additional income for that parent);
  • Any needs of the child, such as school needs, social needs, medical or health requirements, and other similar costs;
  • Geographic location, neighborhood, and other indicators, as different areas may be associated with varying costs of living; and
  • Previous interactions and child support payments between the two parents. For instance, if the paying parent has had difficulty in meeting child support payments in the past, the court may consider this when formulating a new or updated child support order.

Michigan Family Law: What If I Fail to Pay Child Support?

The first consequence of not paying child support is having the amount automatically taken from your paycheck. If this does not satisfy your debt, then the court will go after your tax refund or hold you in contempt of court.

Your bank accounts, personal property, and real property (like your home) can also be taken to pay your support. Failures to pay are also reported to the credit bureaus and impact your credit score. There is also a chance you will be denied a passport or license.

Michigan Family Law: Can the Other Parent Stop Me From Seeing My Kid If I Don’t Pay Child Support?

The parent who does not have primary custody is usually given scheduled visitation opportunities. Visitation is not dependent on child support. This means that you still have a legal right to time with your kid even if you are not paying child support. If the other parent will not let you see your kid, you can go back to court to have your visitation right enforced, especially if there has been a violation of a visitation order.

However, often unpaid child support is due to a change in finances, like the other parent no longer able to afford housing or losing their job. While this should not impact visitation, it can impact any shared custody if the other parent does not have a home.

If the other parent is fully capable of paying child custody but willfully refuses to pay it for some other reason, then it is possible for the parent receiving child support to go to court and request a modification of the visitation order. This is not due to not paying child support but the willful and purposeful defiance of the order.

Michigan Family Law: How Can I Put an End to Child Support?

Terminating child support is something that can only be done through the court. Trying to do this without the court’s approval can lead to serious issues both financially and criminally. Otherwise, child support is ended when the child reaches 18, they are emancipated, or the parent loses all of their parental rights with regard to the child.

Where Can I Find the Right Michigan Family Lawyer?

With something as important as child support, it is important to have legal assistance when you are trying to pursue or change child support. A Michigan child support lawyer will be able to represent you through all of your child support court appearances and help you ensure that your parental rights are enforced.