Elkouri Heath, PLC


39555 Orchard Hill Place, Suite 215, Novi, MI 48375

How Child Support Payments Are Calculated in Michigan

 Posted on May 27, 2021 in Divorce

Farmington Hills family law attorney, parenting plan, uncontested divorce, child support, child support payments

Originally published: March 2018 -- Updated: May 2021

Laws are constantly changing in order to provide better services and protections to people in the community. Recently, child support laws in Michigan have been updated to contain information about what to do when a parent is incapacitated. In many cases, when someone becomes incapacitated because of a disease, illness or injury, it may not be certain when they will recover and begin earning income again. The section added to the Michigan child support manual addresses these types of situations and provides information on what to do in those situations.

An “incapacitated” parent is one that is either permanently or temporarily unable to earn an income for at least 180 days or longer because of a disability, mental incompetency, serious injury, debilitating illness, or incarceration. In these cases, a temporary child support order can be put into place to address this issue and to change the support order to one based on the parent’s current ability to pay. In some cases, a parent’s obligation to pay may be reduced to zero if they are unable to provide support. The final judgment for a modification to the child support order can be postponed until the paying parent’s situation is more stable.

One 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.






Share this post:
Oakland County Bar Association State Bar of Michigan Collaborative Practice Institute of Michigan WCCDBA Woman Lawyers Association of Michigan
Back to Top