How Is Child Support Calculated in Michigan?
In the state of Michigan, both parents are expected to support their minor child. Even if a parent doesn’t have primary custody of their child, they are still required to contribute support regardless of the custodial parent’s ability to meet the child’s needs without financial help.
In Michigan divorce proceedings, when the court orders child support payments from one parent to another, those obligations will continue until the last day of the month in which the child turns 18.
The exception to this is if the child turns 18 but hasn’t yet finished high school. Child support payments cannot extend past the age of 19 and a half years.
The Michigan Child Support Formula
When determining the amount of child support a parent must pay, the court is required to refer to the Michigan Child Support Formula (MCSF). The MCSF specifies support obligations that consist of:
- A base support amount based on parenting time
- Medical support expenses
- Child care expenses
The base child support amount is calculated with consideration given to the number of children involved, the amount of time the parents have their children (overnights), and the income of each parent.
How Income Is Determined
The Michigan Child Support Formula manual specifies how each parent’s income is to be calculated. Stated simply, all of a parent’s income minus permitted deductions and adjustments yield a net income amount used to determine child support payments.
The goal of determining a parent’s net income is to find how much money is available for the support of the child. Income not only includes wages but any earnings generated from a business, rental properties, profits from investment accounts, and even money owed to the parent.
Trying to make your income appear smaller to lower your child support obligation is not a good idea. Michigan courts can make determinations based on what you are realistically capable of earning based on your level of education, work experience, and other similar factors.
Can a Court Deviate from the Michigan Child Support Formula?
Courts are given the discretion to deviate from the formula if it determines that applying the formula would lead to an unfair or unjust result. When deviating from the formula, the court is required to give reasons why it believes the MCSF leads to an inappropriate amount.
Specific criteria for deviation are listed in the MCSF manual, and the court is to be guided by those. Deviation from the MCSF policies because of a disagreement with how they work is not permissible.
Child Support Modification
Court orders for child support can be modified after they are put in place under certain circumstances. Either parent has the right to petition the court to issue child support modifications as is required, but it’s not advisable to make changes to a child support order outside the court.
Help for Calculating Child Support in Michigan
Gucciardo Family Law can help you navigate the complex and often confusing child support laws in Michigan. Call us today for help with understanding your rights and obligations concerning child support.
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