Letter to the Michigan Friend of the Court Advisory Board

28 Nov 2016

Good morning,

I appreciate your attention to the letter and I hope you find it useful, productive and helpful. My intent is to bring to your attention some common discrimination towards fathers and/or non-custodial parents.  I would also like to recommend a solution to the growing problem I have seen in St Clair County and the State of Michigan.

Fathers and non-custodial parents, or child support paying parents are discriminated against and treated differently by the State of Michigan Child Support and parenting system.  This is occurring in multiple ways ranging from in person treatment at the Friend of the Court offices to written laws on custody and parenting time.  The problem and solution will be numbered for ease if understanding.

P1. According to the law “3.06 Child Care Support Obligations 3.06(A) Based on each parent’s percentage share of family income, allocate the actual child care expenses for the children in the case under consideration which allow a parent or third party custodian to look for employment, retain employment, or to attend an educational program to improve employment opportunities.”; however, I have not seen this occur.  In a particular Child Support Case a court referee recommended the new Child Support amount be raised to $1,752/month from $900/month.  This was not calculated using the State of Michigan Child Support Formula and is a direct violation of 2017 MCSF S.3.03(C), paragraphs 4 and 5 that states “Michigan Parental Time offset equation considers the obligations that each parent owes for a child, and balances some of the duplicated costs with the savings caused by time spent in the other parents’ household.  In the following situations, the equation should produce these results:  (4) Small reductions reflect some unduplicated costs.  Reduced offsets continue until a parent will likely incur enough child-related expenses that make it unfair to adjust support and (5) An increasingly greater reduction occurs in the amount a parent owes to the other as a child spends more time in the parent’s household.” as only the Schedules Table in Section 4 was used in this case.  Furthermore, this was not based on both parents’ current income.  The referee used the incomes of both parents from 2015, at which time the father was making about $500 more and the mother was working part-time and making at least $1,000 less.  In the 2017 MCFS, S.4- Schedules was used to estimate Child Support amounts, this is what was used to propose the $1,752, which does not take into account general Cost of Living (COL) expenses.  The below chart denotes what this mistake would do to the Father:

 

Fathers Income (2 separate incomes)
Gross
Gross Salary & Wages Bi-weekly $1,994.40
Gross Bi-Weekly income $1,934.57
Gross Monthly Income $3,988.80
Deductions (without Child Support)
Federal Taxes Bi-Weekly $221.48
State Taxes Bi Weekly $69.14
Local taxes Bi-weekly $19.35
Retirement (FERS) Bi-Weekly $87.75
Medicare Bi-weekly $28.92
OASDI Bi-Weekly $123.65
Total Bi-Weekly Deduction $550.29
Monthly Deductions $1,100.58
Take home
Take Home Bi-weekly $1,384.28
Monthly Take home $2,888.22
Once a month Military Pay(take home) $313.33
Total $3,201.55
Normal Cost of living bills (rent, car payment, Insurance, Etc.)-Monthly
Fathers Income (proposed C.S. per C.S. Schedule Table)   Fathers Income (Current C.S. $900)
$1,100 Rent; $250 car payment; $200 Insurance; $250 Utilities $1,800   $1,100 Rent; $250 car payment; $200 Insurance; $250 Utilities $1,800
Total take home with living cost taken out $1,401.55   Total take home with living cost taken out $1,401.55
Child support (Based on new amount) paid monthly $1,752.00   Child support (Based on SoMI CS Schedule Chart) paid monthly $900.00
Remaining income (monthly) after bills & Child Support -350.45   Remaining income (monthly) after bills & Child Support $501.55

 

And this is what happens to the mother’s income:

Normal Cost of living bills (rent, car payment, Insurance, Etc.)-Monthly
Father   Mother (take home monthly is $2,506.00)
$1,100 Rent; $250 car payment; $200 Insurance; $250 Utilities $1,800   $1,100 Rent; $250 car payment; $200 Insurance; $250 Utilities $1,800
Total take home with cost of living taken out $1,401.55   Total take home with cost of living taken out $706.00
Child support (half monthly income take home-COL) paid monthly per S1 $950.78   Child support monthly $950.78
Remaining income (monthly) after COL and Child Support $450.77   Remaining income (monthly) after COL w/Child Support $1,656.78
Child Support (per C.S. Table w/out bills) not S1 $1,752.00   Child Support (monthly w/out COL taken out) not S1 $1,752.00
Remaining income (monthly) w/out COL Bills $1,449.55   Remaining income (monthly) w/out COL Bills $4,258.00
Remaining income (monthly) after bills & Child Support -$350.45   Remaining income (monthly) after bills & Child Support $2,458.00

 

S1.  After reviewing all that information please allow me to recommend some changes that can better relationships between parents and assist Father’s from incurring Child Support debts.

  • Friend of the Court only uses the last 4-6 pay stubs to calculate Gross and Net income.
  • Friend of the Court only uses the parents’ Net income instead of Gross.
  • Before calculating the Child Support using the Child Support Formula take out a generic Basic Cost of Living amount (based on location), this will ensure both parents have the ability to support themselves. Therefore, amend the verbiage in the 2017 MCSF to add a Section 3.04 “After determining both parents’ Net Income subtracts Basic Cost of Living Amount of $1,800 (or determined amount for general Cost of Living in the County).” Here is an example:
$1,100 Rent; $250 car payment; $200 Insurance; $250 Utilities $1,800

 

  • Balance the two parents’ income after Child Support is determined using the Michigan Child Support Formula. If one parent can’t feed them self and the other is living above average there may be a problem for the supporting parent to pay their share and the support formula needs to be readjusted. S2. Upon divorce there is a law to force both parents to attend a parenting class, which is a start; however, I think the State can go one step farther to ensure that children are raised in a safe, healthy, and non-hostile environment. Therefore, I recommend having a psychologist or counselor (paid for by the parents at a cost rate) do an evaluation on both parents and the children to determine if parenting time needs to be set or both parents can amicably agree. This should be done at each review or when a preponderance of evidence shows that one parent is abusing or impeding on the other parents rights. This can be added to 2017 MCSF S.3.01 (B), “Paragraph 9. When there is a preponderance of evidence to conclude that one parent is abusing or attempting to abuse their rights and entitlements to impede on the other parents’ rights as determined by an evaluation conducted by Dr/Counselor XYZ on Date.”
  •       Please consider the changes I have recommended, or something to the same affect, to the State of Michigan Child Support formula, Custodial determinations and Parenting Schedules to ensure this discrimination is not continued. I appreciate your time with my concern regarding discrimination and would appreciate a response
  • P2. The over-empowerment of the mother or custodial parent. I understand that the mother is generally the primary custodial parent; however, I have seen plenty of women who believe that because of this the father doesn’t matter, nor does his time. This results in mother’s using their children as weapons towards the father, which in turn will result in a tense and hostile relationship between the parents. Additionally, because she can decide the other Parent’s time she will take it away to have her Child Support raised to a higher amount.

Thank you for your time.  Denae M. Mongeon

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