Familiy Law Myths

Myth
There is a magic age in Michigan where a child gets to decide where he/she wants to live.
Fact
The preference of a child is one of twelve factors when considering a custody change.  The age and maturity of a child may be considered by the court when considering a custodial change.
Myth
Joint physical custody means equal parenting time with both parents and no child support.
Fact
Joint physical custody may result in an array of parenting time arrangements to fit the needs of child/ren and support is calculated accordingly.

Myth
We each have a child living with us therefore neither of us should pay support.
Fact
There is no child support amount attached to each child.  The child support guidelines calculates child support based on each parent’s actual income or the ability to earn income.

Myth
A parent can sign off his/her parental rights.
Fact
The prosecuting attorney may file a petition to terminate parental rights in cases of severe abuse and neglect, however a parent cannot sign a document that releases his/her responsibility to support the child.  

Myth
I have the right to know how the child support money I pay is being spent.
Fact
There is no law that mandates the recipient of support account for how he/she spends the support money.

Myth
If I send a letter stating I'm unemployed, the Friend of the Court will change the amount I pay for child support.
Fact
Child support can only be modified by either filing a petition or requesting a review of support if it has been three years since the last review of support.

Myth
If I tell something to one person in the government, everyone else in the government who needs to know will find out about it.
Fact
Reporting of information must be done in writing directly to the Friend of the Court office.    

Myth
Even though the order says I must pay child support through the Friend of the Court, I can make support payments directly to my ex without consequences.
Fact
Direct payments are considered gifts and will not be credited against your support account unless a signed written request to forgive such money is sent to the Friend of the Court the recipient of support.  

Myth
If I send a letter stating that my ex and I have reconciled, FOC will stop charging child support.
Fact
To modify a court order regarding child support, a petition must be filed or a written request to review support must be made if it has been three years since the last support review.

Myth
My intercepted tax return will cover the child support so therefore I don’t have to send in this month’s support.
Fact
Child support must be paid on a monthly basis.  Intercepted taxes may take up to six months to be applied to the account.

Myth
My child told me that my ex was mean and yelled at her last weekend and she doesn’t want to go back; therefore she should not have to go.
Fact
The court order regarding parenting time must be adhered to.  The custodial parent is responsible for ensuring the child follows the court ordered parenting time and risks being in contempt of court if the order is disobeyed.

Myth
I am unhappy at work.  If I quit my job and take a lower paying job or start my own business, child support will be reduced to reflect this change.
Fact:
If a payer of support quits a job, the court may view the act as an unexercised ability to earn income and refuse to modify the support amount.

Myth
My children are with me during the school break, therefore I do not have to pay child support during this time.
Fact
Child support must continue to be paid on a monthly basis even though the children may be residing with the payer of support.  Most orders entered into prior to October 1, 2008 allow for the payer of support to get a 50% retroactive abatement when the child spends six or more consecutive overnights. 

Myth
If I write a letter to the Friend of the Court saying I am injured and cannot work, child support will stop.
Fact
Child support will continue to charge and Friend of the Court will enforce support until the order is modified by the court.

Myth
The other parent has not seen my child in a long time, therefore he/she no longer has any parenting time rights.
Fact
The Friend of the Court will continue to enforce the parenting time until the order is modified by the court.

Myth
My ex and I have come to an agreement about parenting time and child support.  If I send our agreement to the Friend of the Court, the court order is changed to reflect our agreement.
Fact
The Friend of the Court will continue to enforce the parenting time and child support order until the order is modified by the court.  A petition must be filed to modify the court order.

Myth
My child is involved in activities that take precedence over parenting time.  The other parent must make arrangements for the child to participate during his/her parenting time.
Fact
Each parent decides what activities the child participates in, if any, during his/her parenting time. 

Myth
My child is now living with me.  If I write a letter telling the Friend of the Court this, custody will change and child support will stop.
Fact
If the child is residing with the payer of support on a permanent full-time basis, the child support may be abated to reflect this change, but custody will not change until a petition is filed to modify the order.