When does child support end?

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Child support typically ends when the child turns 18 years old and graduates from high school. If the child turns 18 years old before school ends in June, child support continues until the end of June. Many Courts and the Friend of the Court require that support be paid through the end of the month to avoid prorated credits. Child support may continue until the child is 19 ½ if still attending high school.

Michigan Compiled Law - MCL 552.605b states that “The court may order child support for the time a child is regularly attending high school on a full-time basis with a reasonable expectation of completing sufficient credits to graduate from high school while residing on a full-time basis with the recipient of support or at an institution, but in no case after the child reaches 19 years and 6 months of age.”

The Court of Appeals decided the published case of Weaver v. Giffels (Docket No. 327844) on November 10, 2016. In this case, Mr. Giffels disputed the continued child support payment for his daughter who was eighteen years old but still in high school full-time. The daughter resided with both parents on an alternating shared physical custody basis with approximately 3 days every week at her father’s home. The Appeals Court agreed with Mr. Giffels and held that child support terminated after the child’s 18th birthday based on the shared parenting time arrangement. The case was reversed and remanded to the trial court to determine whether the child resided on a "full-time basis" with Defendant. This is a published case which means that the Appeal Court’s ruling is binding on all lower courts.

Note: The Defendant mother argued that because Plaintiff father had paid the child support as required by the contested order, the appeal was moot. The Court of Appeals specifically held to the contrary in Dean v. Dean, 175 Mich.App 714, 722; 438 NW2d 355 (1989).

How long does it take to finalize the divorce in Michigan?

After filing for divorce, the statutory waiting period is 60 days for cases without a minor child and 6 months for cases in which there is a minor child. There is no exception to the 60 day waiting period.  For the 6 month waiting period, Michigan Court Rule 3.210 (Sec. A). provides authority for the court to consider waiving the 6 month requirement typically for couples that have already separated and reached a signed settlement agreement. In all cases, the Court is required to make a finding on the record before approving the Judgment of Divorce. This means that the Plaintiff has to appear in court and answer a set of specific questions. The Court is required to confirm that there is jurisdiction over the parties, the status of custody, parenting time and support for any children or pregnancy, and that each party signed the necessary paperwork. The Court must also verify that there is no chance of reconciliation. After review of the required paperwork, the divorce will be final after the Judge determines and states the following which is similar to irreconcilable differences in other states: “there has been a breakdown in the marriage relationship to the extent that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed and there remains no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved.” This language is based on MCL 552.6. The below Michigan Court Rule provides authority for the court to waive the 6 month waiting period and to allow the parties to place proofs on the record after 60 days have expired:

RULE 3.210 HEARINGS AND TRIALS (A) In General.

(1) Proofs or testimony may not be taken in an action for divorce or separate maintenance until the expiration of the time prescribed by the applicable statute, except as otherwise provided by this rule.

(2) In cases of unusual hardship or compelling necessity, the court may, upon motion and proper showing, take testimony and render judgment at any time 60 days after the filing of the complaint.

(3) Testimony may be taken conditionally at any time for the purpose of perpetuating it.

(4) Testimony must be taken in person, except that the court may allow testimony to be taken by telephone in extraordinary circumstances, or under MCR 2.407.

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Does Michigan Have Dower Rights?

Michigan law is changing to abolish dower rights with Senate Bill 558. The right of dower assigned a 1/3 ownership interest to a married women to any property purchased by her husband. This right was exclusive to women. The laws regarding dower rights date back to 1787 per the case of May v. Rumney, 1 Mich. 1 (1847). This dower right was relevant in the past because a a married woman could not own her own real property. Dower rights helped prevent a married man from completely disinheriting his spouse. Therefore, all deeds listing a man have been required to list his marital status. The Judgment of Divorce and Judgment of Separate Maintenance will no longer require a dower provision based on PA 378 HB 5520 which amends MCL 552.101 Sec. 1.

Setting Simple Boundaries

Over the past 10 years, we have helped people with family law, estate planning and probate matters. Loss of loved ones and the end of relationships are extremely difficult situations. Helping others is our passion. We provide step by step guidance with simple boundaries to promote healthy relationships, reduce stress levels, and to help achieve goals.

Please contact us for more information on setting simple boundaries while going through life changes.

Who Picks the Child Care Provider & What is Right of First Refusal?

The decision to use child care, and the choice of providers, is typically the right of the parent caring for a child. In Ireland v Smith, 451 Mich 457 (1996), the mother and the child lived in an apartment in the university family housing unit. When she attended class, the child was cared for in university-approved day care. Her authority to select a child care provider was never questioned by the courts, although the Supreme Court noted that "actual and proposed child-care arrangements - whether in the custodial home or elsewhere - are a proper consideration in a custody case." 

The Right of First Refusal is a highly disputed issue in many cases. It may be an agreed upon provision that the other parent has the right to spend time with the child prior to a paid care provider or another family member. The provision needs to be very carefully worded to determine if the provision is for a certain period of time or overnight only during a business trip, non-work related, whether family members such as grandparents may watch the child before the other parent has to be contacted, who provides transportation, whether a step-parent could spend time with the child, the age of the child when a care provider is no longer necessary, and many other factors to take into consideration when utilizing this provision. It works well with parents that cooperate and drives many high conflict cases back into court.

In Van Malsen v Van Malsen, unpublished opinion issued April 24, 2012 (Docket No. 303689), the Court of Appeals affirmed the Trial Court's decision to remove the provision from the Judgment and that the right of first refusal provision is “often more problematic then helpful.” Especially when the child is put in the middle and continually questioned by each parent whether a babysitter was used during the other parent's parenting time.