Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Parents Skip Marriage and Opt for Living Together

By:  Carole L. Chiamp

Forget Ozzie and Harriet.  There are twelve times more unmarried parents with children living together today than in 1970.

A report published by the National Marriage Project, an initiative at the University of Virginia and the Institute for American Values, both partisan groups which support marriage, claims more children are likely to have unmarried parents than divorced ones.  The groups don’t think that is a good thing.  They believe it makes children’s lives less stable.

Additionally, the groups claim that their statistics point out that Americans with only a high school diploma are far more likely to cohabit without benefit of marriage than are college graduates.

Other information available from the groups suggests that children in cohabitating families tend to do worse in school and are less psychologically healthy than those whose parents are married.  Further, a report from the Department of Health and Human Services found children living with their biological parents had the lowest rate of child abuse – 6.8 per 1,000 children – while children living with one parent and an unmarried partner had the highest incidence, at 57.2 per 1,000 children.

Just 37% of Wayne County households include a husband and wife.  In Oakland and Macomb Counties, households with a marriage couple comprise 51% and 50%, respectively.

For more on this, see The New York Times article “More Unwed Parents Live Together, Report Finds" by Sabrina Tavernise and Detroit Free Press article “Nuclear family no more:  New data shows grandparents raising kids, more unmarried couples" by John Wisely and Kristi Panner-White.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Child Support and Reimbursement of Child's Health Care Expenses in Michigan

By:  Kathryn M. Cushman

We often get questions regarding how the payment of health care expenses works in Michigan when one parent is paying child support to the other.  Many get confused that the cost is automatically broken down by the percentages assigned to each party in the child support order, but this is incorrect.  If ordinary medical expenses are included in the child support order, the payer (the parent paying the support) is already contributing to the medical costs on a monthly basis as part of the child support payment.  Generally, this means that the payee (the parent receiving the support) must cover the day-to-day costs.  Only once the total expenses exceed the stated annual ordinary medical (AOM) threshold amount in the order (currently set at $345 per year, per child), do the percentages kick in.  This means that the payee parent must be careful to keep track of the expenses along the way, even keeping receipts, so he/she can be ready when it is time to request reimbursement from the payer parent.

Once the payee parent exceeds the AOM amount, he/she has 28 days from the date of the bill to request reimbursement from the payer parent.  If the payer fails to pay his/her portion of the bill, then the Friend of the Court can enforce payment.  See form FOC 13a to begin this process.  It will be necessary to show all receipts and accounting for the FOC to enforce the payment. 

So what do ordinary medical expenses consist of, you ask?  Usually they include insurance co-pays and deductibles as well as most uninsured medical costs for children.  The term “medical” includes treatments, services, equipment, medicines, preventative care, similar goods and services associated with oral (including braces), visual, psychological, medical, and other related care provided or prescribed by a health care professional for the child(ren). (2008 Michigan Child Support Formula Manual 3.04(A)(1)). Routine remedial care costs (e.g. first aid supplies, cough syrup, and vitamins) do not qualify as medical expenses. (2008 Michigan Child Support Formula Manual 3.04(A)(2)).

For more help on this topic, contact us at Hickey, Cianciolo, Fishman & Finn, P.C.

Monday, August 1, 2011

4th Annual Culinary Challenge

This year's Fourth Annual Culinary Challenge was hosted at the home of Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Kirsten Frank Kelly, raised over $16,000 to benefit women’s charities, including Alternatives for Girls, Crossroads for Youth and the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan Foundation. The highlight of the event is a grill-off between the bench (Grilled by the Bench) and the bar (Grilled by the Hour). Once again, the lawyers won!

Once again, two of our lawyers, Carol F. Breitmeyer and Carole L. Chiamp were instrumental in orchestrating another successful Challenge.  They both serve on the fundraiser's planning committee. Over the past four years, the Challenge has donated over $25,000 to local charities.

For the Michigan Bar Journal article on the event, click here.
For the Legal News article on the event, click here.