Different Expenses that are Included in Child Support Orders
When it comes to raising children, there is a long list of expenses you will be responsible for, both planned and unplanned. In order for children to have their needs met and grow up comfortably, both parents are required to provide financially for their children no matter their marital status.
Financially supporting children is generally simpler when parents are married, as many married couples opt for a joint account which they can use to pay for anything relating to their children’s needs. However, when parents are divorced or separated, creating a fair system for the financial support of shared children can be a bit more complex. This is where child support orders come in.
What are the Expenses Included in Child Support Payments?
Child support refers to a system of payments designed for a divorced or separated couple with the goal being an acceptable financial support system for shared children. In Michigan, the factors considered in the formation of a child support order include:
- Custody arrangements and parenting time agreements
- Number of children being supported
- Each parent’s income
- General childcare costs (food, clothing, shelter, etc.)
- Expected or known medical costs
- Health insurance
- Education expenses
- Travel costs for visitation
- Extracurricular activities
In most divorce cases involving children, one parent will be awarded primary custody; this means that the child or children live with this parent and spend the majority of their time with them. This parent is referred to as the custodial parent, while the parent whom the children do not live with and spend less time with is referred to as the noncustodial parent, or the obligor.
The obliger is the parent responsible for paying child support to the custodial parent. In Michigan, the obliger must pay the custodial parent the agreed-upon child support payments each month until the child turns 18, or 19 ½ if the child is still in high school and living with the custodial parent full-time.
What Specific Expenses are My Child Support Payments Covering?
The expenses of raising children are separated into two categories: direct costs and indirect costs.
Direct costs are expenses that directly benefit the child with no middleman, and usually include non-essential items such as private school tuition, extracurricular activities, name brand clothing, and toys.
Indirect costs are expenses that are paid to a third party but are still essential for childcare, such as food, transportation, rent, and utilities.
Can Parents Design Their Own Child Support Payment Plan?
In child support cases, Michigan courts utilize a Uniform Child Support Order, or UCSO. After collecting all the necessary information regarding each parent’s income, custody arrangements, and expected childcare costs, the judge will follow the UCSO’s child support formula to make the official order, and typically no changes will be made to the formula unless the outcome is inappropriate or unfair to either parent.
Parents are allowed to present their own agreements regarding child support amounts. The court can consider this agreement, but ultimately has the power to decide whether or not the agreement is just or if the child support formula should be used instead.
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