Michigan Child Support & Overnight Calculations

Michigan child support is based on the number of overnight visits

Michigan uses a parenting time percentage in its child support formula to determine the amount of child support in your divorce case.

Besides income, overnight totals are a key part of the Michigan child support formula. Your overnights directly affect your child support, whether you pay or receive.

Most overnight totals are estimates (and thus incorrect)

Michigan attorneys and judges often rely on overnight estimates only, even if they are incorrect, because counting total hours is tedious and time consuming. Divorcing parents often rely on these estimates as well.

Using estimates means your overnight totals are wrong when compared to your actual parenting time schedule. This means your child support amount will not be fair or exact.

How to calculate overnights instead of relying on estimates

To calculate overnights, the easiest and most accurate way is to use software. Without software, you're forced to count each night for a whole year, which is error-prone when you include alternating holidays, summer break, and any changes to the schedule throughout the year.

The leading overnight calculation software, Custody X Change, can calculate your overnights to see if they were estimated incorrectly.

Use the Free Download

Using software, you can also tweak your schedule to see how even little changes affect your total overnights, and you can see how your overnights change each year due to holidays and other events.

You can also track what actually happens, and show how many overnights you've actually received for any period of time. Historical information is a powerful tool when you request a child support modification or when you request more parenting time.

Fast facts on Michigan child support

In any divorce, Michigan family courts award custody of the children to one or both parents. Custody is divided into legal custody and physical custody. The number of overnights factors into the child support formula for sole custody.

Michigan sole physical custody: The children reside with and are supervised by the residential parent, while the other parent is entitled to scheduled visitations. In Michigan, sole physical custody is given to the parent with whom the children spend the most time with.

Michigan shared physical custody: Each parent has significant periods of physical custody, which allows them frequent and continuing contact with their children. Michigan law outlines shared custody as any arrangement in which the child has regular and continuing contact with both parents. It assumes an approximate 50/50 split. 

Michigan child support formula and parenting time adjustment

Michigan family courts use formulas that consider both parents’ incomes and the needs of the child to arrive at a monthly child support amount.  The parenting time percentage adjustment only figures into sole physical custody cases.

Michigan family courts use a formula that considers both parents’ incomes and the needs of the child to arrive at a monthly child support amount. The parenting time percentage adjustment only figures into sole physical custody cases.

The non-residential parent generally pays the residential parent the child support.

The shared custody formula doesn’t allow a parenting time percentage adjustment toward child support. The difference between the two incomes is calculated using the shared expense formula, and the higher earner pays that difference as child support to the lower earner.

Examples of sole child custody and Michigan child support

Consider the hypothetical case of Robert and Mary. Robert grosses $4,000 per month, while Mary grosses $2,400 per month. They have two children.

See how the child support amounts change in these examples:

  • Scenario #1: Robert is the non-residential parent in this sole custody case, and is scheduled to host the children for 73 overnights per year, or 20 percent. He pays $1,085 in child support to Mary.
  • Scenario #2:  Robert hosts the children for 110 overnights, or 30 percent. He pays $984 in child support to Mary.
  • Scenario #3: Robert hosts the children for 146 overnights, or 40 percent. He pays $718 in child support to Mary.

If Mary were the non-custodial parent, she would pay child support to Robert based on the number of overnights she hosted the children.

In Michigan sole custody cases, the non-residential parent pays child support to the residential parent, regardless of income.

Examples of shared custody formula and Michigan child support

Consider the hypothetical case of Robert and Mary. Robert grosses $4,000 per month, while Mary grosses $2,400 per month. They have two children.

See how the child support amounts change in these examples:

  • Scenario #1: Robert hosts the children for 182 overnights, which is nearly a 50/50 split. He pays $222 in child support to Mary. This is because he is the higher earner.
  • Scenario #2: If Robert and Mary agreed to a 50/50 split and both earned the same amount, $4,000, there would be no child support paid or received because there is no net difference.

In Michigan, joint physical custody cases, the higher earner generally pays child support to the lower earner. This is to ensure that the children will enjoy the same standard of living between the two households.

Other factors in the Michigan child support formula

Michigan’s child support formula uses the following information to calculate your monthly amounts for shared custody child support:

  • Parenting time: Michigan only allows parents to count overnights, or when children sleep and eat meals at each parent’s home.
  • Eligible children: According to MCL 722.3 MCL 722.3, a status of the Michigan Minors Act, child support is paid for any child under 18. Support may be extended until age 19 1/2 while a child completes high school, or beyond as long as both parents agree.
  • Gross earnings: Gross earnings are established based on tax records and current pay stubs. Michigan law requires the use of both parents’ incomes from the equivalent of one full-time job to determine a child support amount.
  • Specific deductions: There are some deductions allowed by Michigan family courts that allow an adjustment of the income, including health insurance premiums for the children, support for other children and child care expenses, for example.
How accurate child support helps your children

Paying accurate child support helps your children in several ways, primarily because it ensures their financial needs are met.

Here are some other reasons why accurate overnight numbers help you, the other parent and your children:

  • It provides a fair way to determine your child support amounts
  • It guarantees the child support amount reflects each parent’s responsibilities
  • It allows for modifications if your actual time and scheduled time are different
  • It is compliant with Michigan law

Your financial obligations to your children don't end with divorce, so whether you are paying or receiving child support, you owe it to your children to pay or receive the proper amount.

Top 5 things to remember about Michigan child support and overnights

To ensure you are paying or receiving the right amount of child support in Michigan, remember these 5 things:

  1. In Michigan, the child support amount is determined using guidelines established under state law. These guidelines are based on the monthly net income of both parents.
  2. Health care expenses and day care costs for children can be deducted from the total income of both parents to arrive at an accurate amount from which to base child support.
  3. The sole physical custody child support formula includes overnight totals where the non-residential parent hosts the children.
  4. More overnights for the non-residential parent results in a lower amount of child support.
  5. If parents with shared physical custody agree to a 50/50 split on parenting time, the higher earning parent makes child support payments to the lower earning parent.

Use Custody X Change software to create a custody schedule that will quickly calculate the total parenting time for the Michigan child support formula.

As you negotiate what kind of custody schedule will best fit your needs, the software will accurately calculate your parenting time percentage.


Custody X Change is software that makes it easy to document your situation and stay organized.

Free Download
No credit card required

The leading overnight calculation software, Custody X Change, can calculate your overnights to see if they were estimated incorrectly.

Use the Free Download