There are an abundance of hurdles to overcome as you work through the divorce process or try to figure out a co-parenting situation that works for your family. Child support is a tense issue for many co-parenting pairs, with both parties often feeling like they’re being taken advantage of. Perhaps you’re a custodial parent, irritated that your co-parent puts in less parenting work than you and doesn’t give you the financial support you need to be a primary caretaker. Maybe you’re a non-custodial parent, and you’re tired of paying a high child support bill every month without seeing anything come from it. In either situation, The Lobb Law Firm can help.
We understand the complex issues underlying child support cases, and whichever side you’re on, our goal is to do what’s best for you and your child. To discuss your family law needs with experienced Southfield family lawyers, call The Lobb Law Firm now.
Michigan Child Support Guidelines
Michigan’s child support laws are in place to ensure that children are supported by both parents whenever possible. These laws help children enjoy the same quality of life that they would have had if their parents had remained in a single home. Whether you are seeking or paying child support, it’s important to understand how the state of Michigan makes its decisions.
Michigan courts use the “Michigan Child Support Formula.” It’s fairly complex, which is why it’s important to discuss your needs with top family law attorneys in Southfield. The child support formula considers income, including:
- Annual and seasonal variations in each parent’s income
- Means tested income
- Inheritance and gifts
- Income-producing assets
- Income deductions
- Children from other relationships
It also calculates each parents’ obligation by establishing a base level of support. Then, they adjust that number to account for health care obligations, time spent with each parent, health care coverage, childcare, and dependent benefits.
Other factors that are considered in the calculation include non-parental custodians, arrears, property, modification, and order conversion.
Factors in Child Support Calculations
The court begins with the Michigan Child Support Formula. In some situations, it does not follow the CSF to the letter. The court is obligated to alter child support awards if a familial situation would make standard child support unfair. For example, a child with special needs may need around-the-clock care or have frequent medical appointments, limiting the custodial parent’s ability to work and bring in income. The support order could be altered to ensure that the child still maintains a high quality of life.
One question that we get is, “What if my ex-spouse has remarried and their spouse earns a lot?” Michigan guidelines are based on the child’s parents’ income, not the income of non-parents. In some cases, the ex-spouse is the custodial parent, and the paying parent wonders if the presence of a stepparent lowers their child support obligations. Sometimes, a custodial parent wonders if they can get more child support if the paying parent has married someone who is wealthy. In either case, only the child’s parents are considered – their new spouses’ are irrelevant.
Do You Need a Child Support Attorney?
You may wonder if you need a child support lawyer if the court tends to stick with a standard formula. The answer: yes, you do need a child support attorney. Odds are good that your co-parent will have their own attorney advocating for their best interests. If you show up to represent yourself, you most likely do not have the legal knowledge or experience to successfully fight for yourself against an established family law attorney. You absolutely need an attorney whose only job is to advocate for you and fight for a fair child support agreement.
Additionally, many child support cases can become far too complex for parents to handle on their own. Generally, these situations involve the custodial parent not getting what they are owed. There have been cases of people who have quit their job or purposely remained underemployed to avoid paying more child support or to simply inconvenience the other parent. What do you do in this situation? There are legal remedies, and the court does not look favorably upon parents who try to shirk their parental responsibilities.
This becomes even more complicated if the non-custodial parent has other ways of avoiding child support payments. For example, a non-custodial parent who is paid under the table or primarily earns their income from tips can easily underreport their income and leave the custodial parent in dire straits. This is not a situation to handle on your own. You need an attorney who knows how to trace unreported income, understands what evidence the court looks for in these cases, and is willing to fight aggressively to get you what you deserve.
You may also need legal assistance if you are having trouble collecting child support. If your support isn’t automatically withdrawn from the other parent’s bank account or paycheck, you may struggle with late or missing payments. This is unacceptable and the other parent must be held accountable for the costs associated with childrearing. Your Lobb Law Firm family law attorney will fight for fair, on-time payments that allow you to meet your child’s needs.
The Lobb Law Firm is On Your Side
The team at The Lobb Law Firm is committed to helping every single client resolve their family law issues efficiently and with as little stress as possible. We understand how challenging these situations can be for you and your family, and we want to support you.
Everything starts with a free initial consultation. During your free consultation, we will ask questions to get a better understanding of your situation and answer any questions you have. From there, we will devise a plan and explain it to you. Take the first step now and contact our office to schedule your consultation. We look forward to working with you.