Monday, April 06, 2009

Child Support and Mediation


Child support may be awarded pursuant to several Michigan statutes, including the Divorce Act, the Paternity Act (when the child’s parents are not married to each other and the paternity of the child is at issue), and the Family Support Act (FSA) (when the parents are married to each other but have not filed for divorce, or the parents are not married to each other but paternity is acknowledged). These acts are under the exclusive jurisdiction of the family division of the circuit court and are enforceable under the Support and Parenting Time Enforcement Act (SPTEA).

A child has an inherent right to the support of his or her natural or adoptive parents. If there is no biological or adoptive relationship giving rise to a support obligation, a child is usually not entitled to support. However, courts have imposed support obligations on a nonparent based on the doctrines of equitable estoppel and equitable parenthood where the nonparent represents himself or herself to be the parent of the child for many years even though the person knew he or she was not the biological parent.

All child support calculations, including for interim orders and requests for modification, must begin with application of the Michigan Child Support Formula. The Michigan formula is based on the needs of the child and the actual resources of each parent. The court must order support in an amount determined by applying the child support formula or may enter a support order that deviates from the formula if application of the formula would be unjust or inappropriate. Parents may not bargain away a child’s right to adequate support, and the parties may not usurp the court’s statutory authority by agreeing to limit the amount of support. Provisions that attempt to put a ceiling on the support available in the future are unenforceable.


If you and your spouse when considering divorce differ only on a few issues I suggest you use the Mediation Process.

One fundamental premise of the mediation process is self-determination. When parties have complete and thorough information and understanding about the substantive matters of their dispute coupled with a complete and thorough understanding of the risks or unknowns involved with their dispute, they are able to made substantive decisions that consider all of that information. A mediator feels confidence in the substantive decisions of the parties, when he/she recognizes the decisions are based on thoughtful consideration of both known and unknowable elements.

On the other hand, a mediator will likely feel less comfortable if parties enter into substantive agreements without first having and considering "knowable" information. For example, a party who agrees to waive his/her interest in compensation for future medical bills without having any knowledge about what the relevant future medical bills might be could leave a mediator feeling less than comfortable about the agreement. Or a party who agrees to waive his/her interest in a pension plan without any knowledge of the value of that pension could leave the mediator feeling less than comfortable about the agreement.

Mediators have helpful intervention techniques to use when confronted with parties who appear to be making substantive agreements that are not well informed in the mediator’s view.

In Mediation you are in control and you may resolve the issues of your divorce with dignity and respect.

If you have questions concerning mediation of lowering your child support please call my office for an appointment. 235-1970.

Remember the Flint Mayorial Debat on 4/30/09 6:30 at UAW Local 651 , 3518 Robert T Longway. Sponsored by the Genesee County Democratic Party. You are invited.

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