Michigan Youngster Assist System Handbook and Complement Issued

Tuesday February 9, 2021

In its regular four-year plan, the State Court Administrator’s Office published an updated Michigan Child Support Formula Manual and Supplement effective January 1, 2021. This review briefly discusses some of the more significant changes from the 2017 Manual and Supplement. Page ii of the manual summarizes the key changes from 2017 to 2021 more fully.

One anticipated change that will affect all family law matters involving minor children is the increase in the normal medical amount from $ 403 per child to $ 454 per child for all maintenance requests received on or after January 1, 2021.

A significant addition to the manual and the addendum is the new “Disabled Parents” section from MCSF Section 4.02 of 2021, which takes into account circumstances where one parent may be temporarily or permanently unable to earn income for an expected period of at least 180 days . This section includes incarceration as a form of inability to pay child support, leading to the deletion of Section 1.04 (E), where incarceration was previously addressed by a support variance factor.

A central aim of the new section is to provide flexibility to the parties, the friend of the court and the court in situations where the length of the incapacity for work may be uncertain. Disability means handicap, intellectual incompetence, serious injury, debilitating illness, or incarceration. Recognizing that MCL 552.603 generally prohibits retrospective change in child support and that the length of a period of incapacity for work may be unknown for some time, Section 4.02 provides a framework for a payer to report the incapacity to work early and to the Court to provide the ability to adopt a flexible approach to reviewing necessary changes in child support.

For example, consider a situation where the paying mother is injured in a car accident that renders her unable to work. Section 4.02 gives her the option to request a preliminary adjustment to her support obligation, including setting a zero support obligation if she is incapacitated under 4.02 (B) and the option of the Court to postpone a final decision until the duration of her Incapacity for work can be longer in time and financially under 4.02 (D). In addition, in this scenario the Court could also consider circumstances such as: B. a later government discovery of a disability or recovery from litigation, sometimes several years later, or whether the degree of incapacity for work is significant enough to merit a change in parental leave schedule. The key to Section 4.02 is to submit a request for a change in support obligation immediately.

Practitioners should carefully review the provisions of Section 4.02. It offers considerable flexibility in what is often viewed as a rigid system and can be particularly timely as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect many people.

© 2020 Varnum LLPNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 40

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