In Michigan, typically child support ends when the child reaches the age of 18 and the child is no longer a minor. However, an exception to this rule exists where the child is still attending high school and is residing on a full-time basis with the child support recipient. In the matter of Weaver-Giffels v Giffels, COA 327844 (For Publication) November 10, 2016, the father challenged whether the daughter was actually residing with the mother on a full-time basis.
In that case, the daughter stayed with the father three nights per week and the mother four nights per week. The father argued that support should not continue because the parties shared physical custody and the daughter did not live with the mother on a full-time basis. The appellate court found that the legal definition of reside contains both a physical presence and an intent element, so that it would be possible for the child to reside full-time with the mother based on her intent to make her mother's home her permanent residence, while still spending some overnights with her father, so long as her intent was to reside full-time with her mother. It then remanded the case back to the divorce court to determine whether the daughter lived with the mother on a full-time basis.
This is an odd result because it requires the court to consider the intent of the child and puts the child right in the middle of the support dispute, almost requiring the child to testify regarding which parent the child considers to have the permanent residence. It is also odd because in reality, whether the child intends to make the payee's residence his or her permanent residence should make no difference regarding whether the child receives child support. Child custody and support cases have many nuances that require the help of an experienced family law attorney.