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How Child Support Payments Are Calculated in Michigan

Posted on in Divorce

Farmington Hills family law attorney, parenting plan, uncontested divorce, child support, child support paymentsOne of the most sensitive issues in a divorce involving children is the parenting plan. For example, how much time do the children spend with each parent? Which parent has to pay child support to the other, and how much? Developing a parenting plan that meets the needs of both the children and the parents is a complicated process.

Let us look at just one of the many issues that must be decided in a divorce involving children: how child support payments are calculated. Even in an uncontested divorce, if children are involved, the settlement agreement must address the question of child support.

Michigan Child Support: Part Formula, Part Discretion

At first glance, the state of Michigan seems to have made it quite simple to determine which parent must pay child support to the other, and in what amount. State law requires the use of the Michigan Child Support Formula (MCSF). There is even an online tool to calculate the amount one parent should pay the other, based on simple inputs such as each parent’s income and the number of overnights the child will spend with each parent.

Child Support May Need to be Adjusted for Special Circumstances

However, the court does have the discretion to adjust the formula-derived child support payments in special circumstances. Consider the following examples of special circumstances that could support a deviation from the standard formula:

  • A child has special needs and/or extraordinary educational expenses;
  • A parent is a minor;
  • A parent is incarcerated with minimal or no income or assets;
  • A parent has a reduced ability to pay due to extraordinary levels of jointly accumulated debt or extraordinary medical expenses;
  • The court awards property in lieu of support for the benefit of the child; or
  • A child earns an extraordinary income.

The court may also approve a child support agreement made between the parents, as long as the reasons for any deviation from the formula are explained in the final child support order.

If your family has special circumstances, you would be well-advised to consult an attorney experienced in family law, who can help ensure that your divorce settlement will protect your own and your children’s well-being in the years to come.

Child Support and Divorce Attorneys in Livonia and Farmington Hills

While all Michigan residents and courts are bound by the same state laws governing divorce and child support, each county has its own separate circuit court judges and procedures. If you have any questions about child support in Wayne County or Oakland County, get advice from a knowledgeable Farmington Hills family law attorney. Call 248-344-9700 for a free consultation.



Oakland County Bar Association State Bar of Michigan Collaborative Practice Institute of Michigan WCCDBA Woman Lawyers Association of Michigan
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