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Michigan Family Law Blog

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Can I Get Additional Child Support if My Child Attends Private School?

Can I Get Additional Child Support If My Child Attend Private School?

In Michigan, if parents of minor children separate (whether married or not) the court must determine child support based upon the child support formula.  Basically, the formula calculates support based upon each parent's income (as reported by the parent to the Friend of the Court), the number of overnights each parent has with the children, health insurance premiums paid by one parent for the children and work-related verifiable child-care expenses until August after a child's twelfth (12th) birthday.  If a parent is not represented by an attorney, this will be the end of the analysis, regardless of whether a parent has even reported an accurate income.

However, an attorney that really knows family law should be able to help a client obtain more child support in certain situations based upon the particulars of the case.  Divorce law, custody and support are very case specific and the outcome in each case may be determined by even a slight variation in the facts. Where a child or children have been attending private school before the parties separate, there is a very good legal basis to argue that the parent whom has been responsible for paying the tuition or is the primary wage earner of the family, should continue to pay for the tuition in addition to basic child support.  This makes sense on a gut level in that the children, who are not responsible in anyway for the parties separation, should not suffer the additional change or transition.  The children should be able to continue to attend the educational institution where he or she has developed relationships and a sense of stability.

If the parent that has traditionally been responsible for paying the tuition is not willing to agree to pay the tuition to the school after separation, then the other parent has the ability to request additional child support to help cover the cost of tuition.  According to the updated 2017 version of the Michigan Child Support Formula, section 1.04(E)(2); if a child has "extraordinary educational expenses", then the court may deviate from the child support formula.  This means that the court may order additional child support to a parent to help cover the costs of the educational expenses, then that parent uses the additional support to pay the tuition on behalf of the child directly to the school, circumventing the other parent's objections.  It should be noted that this could potentially be also be used on behalf of a parent that is paying tuition on behalf of a child to reduce her or his child support obligation because that parent is taking on the additional obligation of the "extraordinary educational expense". 

At any rate, without a good family law attorney, the court will most likely not take the above special circumstances into consideration when calculating child support.  If you have a child that is attending private or parochial school and you want your child to continue to enjoy that educational experience after a divorce or separation, then it is very important to consult with a family law (divorce) attorney.  This is true regardless of whether you are the parent seeking a commitment from the other parent to continue paying the tuition, or you have been primarily responsible for paying the tuition.  If you have any questions regarding your particular circumstances, please do not hesitate to contact my office at (248) 608-41234 and speak with Cathy to schedule an appointment or email her at cathy@camerongoulding.com.  


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