Increasing & Decreasing Child Support In Michigan
Getting your child support adjusted in Michigan is not always easy. Many misconceptions exist around child support. What one feels the court should take into consideration and what the court actually takes into consideration are often very different things. So what can cause an increase or decrease in Michigan child support?
How Is Child Support Calculated in Michigan
When it comes to looking at increasing or decreasing child support payments, it helps to understand how the Michigan court system calculates the support payments in the first place. Michigan uses a mathematical formula that takes into account, in most cases, the income of the parents, and the number of overnights minor children spend with each parent.
Within each county, there are different guidelines for determining how to calculate the income of the parents. In most cases, the reported Medicare wages are used, either from the last year of filed income tax returns, or from pay stubs. After this baseline income is determined, some adjustments may be made to the income report.
For example, if one parent is paying for health insurance for the child or children, that payment amount can be excluded or deducted from the income of that parent. There are a handful of payments that may be deducted, but they pale in comparison to the number of income additions that can be considered. Additions can be made from any provable source of income. This can include capital gains from the sale of a home or stock, 1099 payments, and more.
Calculating overnights is slightly more straightforward. Any overnight that is not in violation of the custody agreement can be counted as an overnight. So, let’s say your child’s other parent asks you to take your child for a week so they can go on a vacation. Those overnights would count toward your total overnights.
Understanding these calculations can help you determine whether or not it is possible and wise to attempt to adjust your child support payments.
How Can I Get The Court To Change Child Support?
In order to petition for a change in the ordered child support, you must present evidence that a “change of circumstances” has occurred since the original or last order was made. What would constitute a “change of circumstances”?
For example, if your spouse has gotten a significant promotion and raise at their job, this may be cause to file for an increase. Likewise, if you have lost your job (a more common occurrence in the current Covid-19 pandemic), you may wish to file for a reduction in your ordered support.
It may also be beneficial to motion for a modification of support if you have had a significant change in your overnight count. One or two nights will not alter the order, but if you have added 21 nights to your parenting schedule, a change may be effected.
Which Parent Has To Pay Support?
A common misconception is that the father of the children will always be ordered to pay child support. As you can see from the calculation method, this may not always be the case. In many situations, the mother of the children may have a higher income or even a more demanding job which requires the children spend more overnights with their fathers.
The idea that fathers are responsible for child support has led many men to not file for modifications, fearing that they will have wasted their time and money on a court filing. However, consulting with a family law expert will help you determine whether or not filing for a modification to your Michigan child support order is worthwhile.
What If I Am Ordered to Pay But Have My Kids?
If there is a standing court order for you to pay child support, then you should always pay it. It would be a violation of the order, which can have a drastic impact on you legally and financially. Let’s say you had very little time with your children after a divorce, but over the course of time, your spouse has granted more overnights. Instead of paying less, or nothing, you should then file to have the order modified.
If you stop paying, your arrears will add up quickly. There will be an 8% surcharge added by the state in addition to the amount owed. This can lead to thousands of dollars owed, and incarceration if the debt is not paid.
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