The Friend of the Court may perform a child support recommendation dealing with divorce, family support, paternity and/or interstate cases. Parties not receiving public assistance (TANF or FIP) and wish the Friend of the Court to do a child support recommendation must complete the IV-D Application for Friend of the Court Services (form). Upon receipt of your application the friend of the court office will require the following paperwork to be returned in a timely matter:
• Friend of the Court Questionnaire
• Parties W2 and tax information
• 4 current pay stubs (including unemployment wages for seasonal workers)
• Employer disclosure
If you have an existing order regarding support the Friend of the Court will review your support obligation according to MCL 552.5 17
• Upon written request of either party, not more than every 3 years.
• Upon receiving a Court Order from the Judge.
• Every 3 years when the recipient of support receives public assistance (TANF or FIP)
• Upon the Friend of the Court staff initiative where certain restrictive conditions are met.
• Upon filing of a motion with the county clerk’s office.
How Child Support is Determined:
The laws that govern child support obligations see those payments as a parent’s first and primary financial responsibility, before all other financial obligations. Therefore, not paying child support, as required, carries sanctions or penalties unlike those related to any other bill or debt.
The most effective way to handle your support responsibilities is ensure that your payments are made regularly and timely, according to the Order. This action is necessary to meet the daily financial needs of your children and will eliminate a serious and frequent source of contention between the parties, which can affect your children.
Effective by law on May 1, 1987, child support became a function of a Statewide “Formula”. This change occurred because federal requirements mandated the State of Michigan to develop a uniform child support formula to be used regardless of where and who is dealing with the families. The Michigan Formula was developed over several years by statewide committees and through numerous public hearings. The Formula is reviewed and updated by the statewide committee annually.
Friend of the Court Caseworkers must us the Michigan Formula when calculated child support and the amount calculated using the Michigan Formula is the recommendation for the Order. Either party has the right to object to the amount calculated from the Michigan Formula and have a hearing before the Court. The evidence and testimony presented must demonstrate to the Court that the amount calculated from the Formula is “unjust” or “inappropriate” before the Court, the trier of the facts, will deviation from the Michigan Formula.
Exactly what is the “State of Michigan Child Support Formula”? How is child support calculated when using this Formula? There is no straightforward answer to these questions. The Michigan Child Support Formula contains an equation based on economic principles and research related to the costs of raising children. The formula considers the income of both parents and the needs of the children involved.
The formula considers the nature of the physical care arrangements developed for the children, which is based on the time the children spend with each parent. Current tax tables are incorporated into each year’s formula.
Please note that parental expenses and debts are not considered in the Michigan Child Support Formula. Neither are the incomes of grandparents, stepparents, roommates, boyfriends, girlfriends, etc. considered by the Formula.
The Formula itself is contained in a large and rather complex document and sets of tables that is available to all State Depository Libraries. If a party wishes a copy of their own it can be obtain by sending a money order made payable to the “State of Michigan” in the amount of $5.00/copy to the:
Department of Management and Budget
P0 Box 30026
Lansing, MI 48909
The support amount is written into the Judgment using the Uniformed Child Support Order indicating the amount that will be paid per month with declining amounts shown as each child becomes emancipated.
When does Child Support Stop
Support normally stops when the child reaches age 18 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later, and will not continue past the age of 19 1/2 years.
The Friend of the Court will continue to charge child support in accordance with the terms of the Court Order. However, the Michigan Child Support System will stop charging when the child turns 18 years of age unless the parties notify the Friend of the Court of the expected date of graduation should the child still be attending high school on a fulltime bases. It is the responsibility of the parties to notify the Friend of the Court of any children who marry, enter the Armed Services, or die before turning 18 years of age, and when the child is to graduate form high school. The Friend of the Court will continue to collect support arrearages after the child turns 18 years of age.
Modification in Support
If there is a change in circumstance, a party may request that his/her support be modified.
A party may file his/her own motion for a change in their support order. This is known as an In Pro per or Pro se, support modification. The office of the Friend of the Court will provide forms and instructions to any party wishing to file a motion without the benefit of an attorney. however, a party may contact an attorney to assist them in filing this motion for a change in the current support amount.
Each party has the right under Michigan law to request the Friend of the Court to conduct a review of support, once every three years. Parties will meet with the Chippewa County Friend of the Court to discuss the new support recommendation in an effort to ensure that the information received is correct or if additional information is necessary before seeking entry of a modified order.
Non-Retroactive Modification of Support
Michigan law seldom allows for retroactive modification of child support. This means that once child support is ordered, it generally cannot be changed once it is due and payable. However, effective January 1, 1997, Michigan law created an important exception to this rule. The court may now modify support retroactively where a party knowingly and intentionally fails to report, refuses to report, and/or knowingly misrepresents their income that was required by the court to be reported to the Friend of the Court.
If your financial situation changes you should immediately file a motion to seek a support review. Please keep in mind that support formula changes every three years and the Friend of the Court can not guarantee that support will decrease or increase your current support obligation. Michigan law allows the court to adjust the new support amount back to the date the motion was filed with the clerk’s office. Simply notifying the Friend of the Court of a change in a party’s financial situation does not change the court ordered support amount.
Support and parenting time are separate issues and have there own enforcement and penalties. Do not stop paying support even though you are being denied parenting time with the minor children. File a Complaint for Violations of Parenting Time and the Friend of the Court office will take the necessary steps to resolve the issue.
Spousal support is for the support of the ex-spouse and is distinct form child support, which is for the support of the minor children. Spousal support and child support are not interchangeable terms. If ordered by the Court, it can be weekly payments for an indefinite period, a limited period, or a lump sum payment. If the Friend of the Court is enforcing child support, spousal support can also be ordered directly through the Friend of the Court. Your attorney should be consulted concerning tax implications of spousal support. The Friend of the Court enforces spousal support in the same manner of child support.