The majority of cases that are filed involving minor children are not related to a divorce matter, but rather, paternity or custody matters between never married individuals. Some individuals with children have a long history together, while others more short-term. Trust and communication are usually key issues in these type of cases.

A Paternity action will not be necessary if both parents have signed an “Acknowledgment of Parentage” form.  If the parties have acknowledged parentage, then they can seek a determination of child support, custody, and parenting time under the Child Custody Act. Otherwise, a DNA test may be necessary to establish paternity prior to discussing these other issues.

Custody includes both legal and physical custody.  Legal custody involves decision-making authority as to the important decisions affecting the general welfare of the child.  This includes, for example, educational and medical decisions.  Legal custody can be joint or sole.  To have joint legal custody, the parents need to be able to cooperate and generally agree on important decisions affecting the general welfare of the child.

Physical custody describes where the child resides during any specific period of time.  Physical custody can also be joint or sole; however, in most situations, it is often more important to focus on the actual parenting time schedule rather than the term “physical custody.” The Court determines custody by analyzing the best interests of the minor child. 

As for parenting time, in Michigan, it is presumed to be in the best interests of a child for the child to have a strong relationship with both of his or her parents. Parenting time can be granted in very specific terms, or, if the parties so desire, the schedule can be more open and flexible.

Finally, in terms of child support, a child has an inherent right to the support of his or her natural or adoptive parents. All child support must be calculated in accordance with the Michigan Child Support Formula.  A child support obligation will end once the child reaches 18 or, in some circumstances, it will be extended if the child is regularly attending high school full-time, has a reasonable expectation of graduating from high school, and is living full-time with the payee of support or at an institution.  Even under those circumstances, support will end no later than 19 ½ years of age. 

There is a lot of information that goes into running the Michigan Child Support Formula. Take a look at Attorney Jessica L. Pospiech’s Blog Article here describing a list of some of the most important information that you should gather in order to run child support numbers.