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Child support is more than just the non-custodial parent's duty

Readers may associate child support payments with a non-custodial parent after divorce. It’s true that the custodial parent may be credited his or her costs in raising the children.

However, both parents have a legal obligation to provide for their minor children. For that reason, Michigan child support guidelines take the incomes of both parents into account, as well as expenses and other factors. At a minimum, child support contributions must cover basic necessities, including shelter, food and clothing, and health care. 

Unfortunately, data from the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that 14.4 million custodial parents didn’t receive child support payments from their former spouses in 2011. Collectively, that amounted to $37.9 billion in unpaid support.

Readers may question whether there are more serious penalties available in the case of parents who are chronically delinquent in their child support payments. Although Michigan law may authorize jail time for unpaid payments, the penalties for repeat offenses may not necessarily translate into more serious charges. 

For spouses on both sides of this issue, an attorney can be a valuable resource. For example, an attorney might suggest wage garnishment or other third-party collection tools in the case of a parent struggling with the schedule of payments, despite having an ability to pay.

Interestingly, the federal data also suggested a correlation between visitation time and regularity of support payments. About 49 percent of non-custodial parents that maintained contact with their minor children also kept up with their child support payments. In the case of non-custodial parents that did not continue with their visitation, however, the payment rate dropped down to just over 30 percent.

Source: Highlands Today, “One-third of child support is uncollected Census Bureau: More than $14 billion owed to custodial parents,” Gary Pinnell, Dec. 20, 2013

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Child support is more than just the non-custodial parent's duty | Peter A D'Angelo, Attorney at Law, PLC