Paying Child Support Print E-mail


Maybe yes, maybe no.  If you are disabled and do not have an income, you might think you do not have to pay support.  Not so.

If you only have SSI or disability income, you might think support should be based on your disability or SSI income.  Again, not so. 

SSI and disability are both means tested income, meaning you get them depending on what you don't otherwise have to support yourself or the children.  Since you cannot support yourself, you do not have the means to support your children.  Therefore the Michigan Child Support Formula prevents using your SSI and disability income in the calculation of your child support obligation.

If you do not have an income and are not receiving some form of means tested income, you might still owe child support.  Why?  When a parent has no income and receives no means tested income, you have to wonder how they are supported.   The Michigan Child Support Formula requires the Court to look at the facts closely. 
  • Did this parent quit a job or get fired?  Why?
  • Is the parent young enough and healthy enough to work?
  • Has the parent been looking for a job?
  • Are there jobs this person can do?
  • Would the person make so little money that the cost of child care while the person works, would exceed the earnings?
  • What opportunities are there for this person?
  • Does this parent have education?  Skills training?
  • Are their skills in demand?
  • How are they supported now?
  • Does the parent have an unexercised ability to earn where there is work available?
Certainly in today's economy it seems much more likely that the court will find more and more people unable to find work.  But if it is apparent that the parent could be working, then the court has the authority to impute an income to the parent.

'Imputing' means deciding how much the parent could be earning, although she isn't.  The imputed income becomes the basis for calculating the parent's child support obligation.   Although you may not be working, you may be required to support your children.  It depends on your circumstances.

Jeanne Jerow is a former Friend of the Court Referee for Big Rapids, Mecosta County, Michigan.
She practices in Big Rapids/Mecosta County, Stanton/Montcalm County, Grand Rapids/Kent County, White Cloud/Newaygo County


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