Labre Law Office | Family Law & Criminal Defense Lawyer | Edwardsburg, MI

Child Support Attorneys

Navigating The Details and Enforcement of a Parenting Plan is Better With a Trusted Ally. Our Child Support Attorney Team at LaBre Law Office Will Represent You in All Facets of Your Child Support Case in Michigan or Indiana.

Do You Need the Assistance of a Child Support Attorney to Prepare or Modify Your Parenting Plan Following a Divorce?

Going from a dual-income household to one with just yourself is complicated and overwhelming. When raising children, that stress and anxiety grow exponentially. Being a parent is challenging enough; you should not have to worry about how you’ll care for the children financially. An experienced child support attorney can help you navigate these issues.

Our law firm meticulously fights for an outcome that allows you to raise your child in a safe and healthy environment. The parenting plan will outline the child support to which you and your ex-spouse eventually agree.

Perhaps you seek to collect child support or have been asked to contribute to supporting your child. In some cases, a significant change in the child’s needs or the financial conditions of the parents will necessitate a modification of child support in the parenting plan.

At LaBre Law Office, we draw upon over four decades of experience resolving legal issues for individuals and families in our community. We can help you determine your next steps. Call us to schedule a consultation.

Important Factors for Determining Child Support as Part of Your Parenting Plan

As you begin to develop your parenting plan, remember these considerations when it comes to child support:

  • Age of the children
  • Income
  • Amount of time with each parent
  • Expenses
  • Medical costs
  • Health Insurance
  • Daycare costs
  • Special Needs
  • Children inside and/or outside the marriage

Once the court has issued the parenting plan, child support payments can sometimes be modified for a justified reason. Examples may include a substantial change in the cost of health insurance, job loss, illness, decrease or increase in expenses, or additional income.

You don’t need to create your parenting plan alone. Our experienced team of attorneys is committed to providing you with a positive experience while seamlessly handling the meticulous details.

Understand the Michigan Child Support Formula

The Michigan Child Support Formula (MCSF) is a set of guidelines used by courts to determine the amount of child support that should be paid. It is based on the Income Shares Model, which means that child support is calculated by looking at the combined net income of both parents.

Here’s a brief overview of how the Michigan Child Support Formula works:

  1. Combined Income: Both parents’ monthly net incomes are added together to determine their combined net income.
  2. Base Support Obligation: The combined net income is used to set a base support obligation, or how much parents are expected to spend on their children each month.
  3. Proportional Responsibility: Each parent is responsible for part of the base support obligation, proportional to their income. For example, if one parent earns 70% of the combined income, they would be responsible for 70% of the base support obligation.
  4. Adjustments: Adjustments are made for factors like the number of nights the child spends with each parent, health care costs, and childcare expenses.

The implications of the MCSF for child support decisions in Michigan include:

  1. Fairness: The formula aims to ensure that both parents contribute to the financial support of their children in proportion to their income.
  2. Consistency: The use of a formula provides consistency across cases, so similar situations result in similar child support amounts.
  3. Predictability: Because the formula is publicly available, parents can estimate their potential child support obligations.

However, it’s important to note that while the MCSF provides a guideline, the court has the discretion to deviate from the formula if it would be unjust or inappropriate to follow it in a particular case. Factors such as the child’s needs, the parents’ ability to pay, and the standard of living the child would have enjoyed if the parents had stayed together can influence the final child support order. Your child support attorney can answer your questions and guide you through this process.

Child Support Negotiation and Mediation

Michigan law encourages mediation in family law disputes, including child support issues. A neutral third party called a mediator helps both parties to negotiate and reach a mutually satisfactory agreement. The rationale is that parents are often well-equipped to make decisions about their children’s lives, and mediation allows them to do so in a cooperative, non-adversarial environment. It promotes cooperation, saves time and resources, and prioritizes children’s interests.

Litigation can be lengthy and costly, but mediation is usually quicker and less expensive, allowing parents to focus their resources on their children’s well-being rather than legal fees. The mediation process can potentially reduce conflict, allowing for open communication between parties, often leading to better understanding and compromise. By enabling parents to work together to create a child support plan, mediation can help avoid the antagonism often associated with court proceedings.

A well-structured child support plan can provide stability and predictability, which are crucial factors in minimizing the impact of divorce on children. Mediation can be an effective method to achieve this. However, litigation or other forms of dispute resolution may be more appropriate in cases involving domestic violence or power imbalances. Your child support lawyer can help you assess the appropriate path for your unique case.

Enforcement of Child Support

Child support is designed to provide for the child, not the parent. Its primary goal is to ensure the child maintains a standard of living close to what they would have enjoyed had both parents been together. This principle underscores the importance of collecting child support owed – it directly impacts the child’s quality of life.

In Michigan, the Friend of the Court (FOC) or the Office of Child Support (OCS) under the Department of Health and Human Services enforces child support orders. If an ex-spouse fails to pay child support as required, the custodial parent can contact these agencies, who will take the necessary steps to enforce the order.

The enforcement mechanisms include but are not limited to:

  • income withholding
  • interception of tax refunds
  • suspension of driver’s licenses
  • reporting to credit bureaus
  • jail time for non-payment.

It’s essential to note that the FOC cannot refuse to enforce an order due to the non-cooperation of the custodial parent in other matters like visitation. Legal action can be taken to expedite enforcement if the non-custodial parent is consistently missing payments or if there’s a sudden change in the child’s financial needs.

The importance of child support enforcement cannot be understated. It ensures that the child’s basic needs, such as food, clothing, education, and healthcare, are met. Failure to pay child support can lead to severe consequences for the non-paying parent, including legal penalties and damage to their credit score.

Establishing Paternity

Establishing paternity is a critical initial step in seeking child support in Michigan. It’s advisable for parents dealing with these issues to seek legal counsel to fully understand their rights and responsibilities. In Michigan, paternity is presumed if the couple is married.

There are several ways to establish paternity in Michigan:

  1. Affidavit of Parentage: Both parents sign this document, typically at the hospital when the child is born, which legally establishes the man as the child’s father. Both parents must agree to it.
  2. Paternity Suit: If the alleged father denies paternity or if there’s uncertainty, either parent — or the Department of Health and Human Services — can file a paternity suit. The court may order genetic testing to confirm paternity. This action may lead to an order of affiliation.
  3. Marriage after Birth: If the parents marry after the child’s birth, they can update the birth record to reflect the husband as the father.

Establishing paternity is beneficial for the child in various ways, as it gives them access to the father’s medical history, potential health insurance coverage, social security benefits, and inheritance rights. Furthermore, it allows the father to have a say in legal decisions about the child and ensures that the child has the financial support of both parents.

Modification of Child Support

Child support orders are not set in stone and can be modified under specific significant changes in circumstances of either parent or the needs of the child. The process involves demonstrating a significant change in circumstances and ultimately seeking court approval.

In Michigan, the Friend of the Court (FOC) office reviews child support orders every 36 months. However, a review can be requested before this time if there’s been a substantial change in circumstances that would lead to a more than 10% change in the support amount.

Reasons for a modification could include:

  1. Change in Income: If either parent experiences a significant increase or decrease in income, the child support order might be modified. It could be due to job loss, promotion, or a new job. A change in income of less than 20% is generally not considered significant in Michigan.
  2. Change in Child’s Needs: A modification may be needed if the child’s needs have significantly changed, such as new medical expenses or educational costs.
  3. Change in Custody or Parenting Time: If the amount of time the child spends with each parent changes significantly, it could warrant a change in child support.
  4. Change in Number of Dependents: If the non-custodial parent has more children to support, this could potentially lower the child support for the first family.

To request a modification, the parent must file a motion with the court that issued the original child support order. The motion should detail the reasons for the requested change. It is important to note that a change in circumstances does not automatically lead to a modification. The court will review the case, considering the interests of the child and whether the change aligns with the Michigan Child Support Formula.

Until the court officially modifies the child support order, the current order remains in effect, and all payments should be made as originally ordered.

Contact LaBre Law Office to Begin Planning an Effective Child Support Strategy

If you are seeking child support from your ex, determining how much you might have to pay, or questioning whether a modification to child support in your parenting plan could be an option, our experienced child support lawyers can guide you. We can help you throughout the “Michiana” area, on either of the Michigan-Indiana border.

Call LaBre Law Office today to schedule a consultation so we can assess your child support issue and begin strategizing your plan.

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Why Choose LaBre Law Office?

Our clients in the Michiana area have confidence when LaBre Law Office handles their legal issues because our general practice law firm has established a record as a trusted member of the community for over four decades, serving our neighbors:

  • Caring, aggressive advocacy for your interests in many practice areas
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