The Top 5 Things You Need to Know about Child Support and Parenting Time

By Daniel H Moss, Attorney

1. How Child Support is Determined
Child support is based upon the Michigan Child Support Formula. The Formula primarily takes into account the incomes of the parties, the number of children, overnight parenting times for each party, and health insurance expenses.

2. Child Support Duration
Child support is usually ordered until the child attains the age of 18 years, or graduates from high school, as long as the minor child regularly attends high school on a full-time basis, but not beyond the age of nineteen years and six months of age, or until further order of the court.

3. How Child Support Payments are Enforced
Enforcement of child support payments is instituted by an Order to Show Cause. Non-payment of court ordered support may lead to a contempt of court citation, resulting in a jail term.

If there is an arrearage of interim child support payments, medical expenses, etc., the Judgment of Divorce must contain a provision preserving this arrearage. The same provision holds true for any monies owing under any temporary order. In order to preserve a temporary order, it must be so ordered in the Judgment of Divorce. If it is not so ordered, it is cancelled.

It should be further noted that every child support order now provides for the immediate and automatic withholding of child support payments from any source of the payer’s income.

4. The Impact of Child Support on Taxes
The custodial parent is entitled to take the minor child or children as dependents for all tax purposes. The parties may agree, or the court may order that the noncustodial parent shall have this allowance and enter it into the Judgment. If the noncustodial parent is entitled to the allowance by the Judgment, said parent must obtain each year from the custodial parent a signed Form 8332, which must be filed with the noncustodial parent’s other federal income tax forms.

5. Parenting Time / Visitation Determination and Enforcement
Parenting time, formerly called visitation, is generally granted to the noncustodial parent. The Judgment may state that reasonable parenting time is granted and leave it up to the parties to decide the dates; or specific parenting time hours and dates may be written in the Judgment.

If long distances must be traveled to exercise parenting time, some arrangements can be made concerning the cost of it. Enforcement of visitation rights is by and Order to Show Cause. Judgments of Divorce provide that the minor child may not be permanently removed from the jurisdiction of the court without the court’s approval. To move with the child from the state, the custodial parent must petition the court for an Order to Change Domicile. Parenting time orders are modifiable upon a showing of a change in circumstances warranting same. There is also a provision in the law for the makeup of parenting time that has been wrongfully denied, and contempt of court action against the offending parent that can lead to a fine or jail term.

This article is intended to provide some general information. It is not intended to answer specific questions about a particular case, as each case is different.

If you have questions or are looking for advice about your specific situation, please contact me directly at 248.855.5656 or [email protected].