Handling Child Support In Joint Custody Situations In Michigan

Handling Child Support in Joint Custody Situations in Michigan

When parents seek divorce, it’s only natural for both parents to want to preserve their relationships with children.  Unfortunately, when a household divides, the parents will generally have to find a workable means of splitting parenting time.  This could take many different forms.  All things being equal, parents may be awarded joint custody, whereby they enjoy relatively equal parenting time.  Or one parent may be awarded sole custody while the other has visitation rights.

If parents divorce in a relatively amicable manner, they may elect to create a flexible child custody arrangement that supports intentional and mindful co-parenting and ensures the best possible transition and ongoing care for children.  With so many parents divorcing, forming new families, and changing the definition of the family structure, the concept of custody is changing, as well.

Of course, this can affect the calculation of child support.  How does child support work in Michigan and how can parent handle joint custody and child support agreements in this day and age?  Here are a few things to consider.

Michigan Joint Custody and Child Support

In Michigan, child support is calculated using the Michigan Child Support Formula.  In cases where there is a custodial parent, or one parent that has primary custody and has the children living with them the majority of the time, the court will typically order the non-custodial parent to pay child support as a means of ensuring that both parents meet financial obligations to ensure the health and well-being of shared children.

In joint custody cases, however, where each parent is considered a custodial parent, other factors will determine who pays child support and how much.  Generally, determining who pays child support is based on income of both parents and the amount of time kids spend with each parent.

Once it has been decided which parent will pay, the amount is calculated.  The formula bases payment amount on both parents’ incomes, the number of children, the number of nights children spent with each parent, child care costs, health care costs, and more.  Regardless of the custody arrangement, both parents share an obligation to support their children financially, and the courts attempt to ensure that each contributes in a fair and equitable manner.


In some cases, parents are able to reach an agreement for child support on their own.  If the court determines that the agreement is fair and equitable, they may accept it.  However, they may also choose to order payments based on the amount calculated using the Michigan Child Support Formula.  The court is tasked with preserving the best interests of children, and they will set child support payments accordingly, regardless of any arrangement parents make on their own.

Some parents choose to do more, of course.  These days, it’s not uncommon for parents to set up a joint account designed specifically to meet financial obligations to children.  Both parents contribute funds to the account and both can use it for expenses involving children, from daycare and health care costs, to purchasing food and needed clothing, just for example.  This type of arrangement may only work for amicable couples with a strong co-parenting plan.

If you need help handling child support in your joint custody situation, contact the professionals at The Gucciardo Law Firm today at 248-723-5190 to explore your legal options.

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