Michigan Child Support: Factors and Examples

Child support ensures both parents contribute financially to their children's care. Orders for child support are required in all cases involving custody, unless support has already been handled in a related case.

Usually, the parent with less parenting time pays their share to the other parent, who presumably spends their own share caring for the children. Courts don't consider a parent's gender.

Estimating parenting time could cost you thousands a year in child support. Calculate your time precisely with Custody X Change.

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Child support basics

Michigan courts use a state-mandated formula to determine which parent pays and how much.

The result is called the guideline child support award because judges can adjust it based on case circumstances (e.g., if a child has special needs). Additionally, parents who settle can agree to an adjusted amount and get court approval. Judges only approve deviations in the children's best interests.

Friend of the Court case workers, custody investigators, mediators and lawyers can help you calculate your guideline award. You can also estimate it using Michigan's online calculator.

Typically, support is deducted automatically from the paying parent's paycheck. In some cases, the court allows a parent to pay via the state's online payment service.

Agreements for how parents will handle expenses not covered by child support or factored into the formula (e.g., school tuition) can be included in an optional parenting plan.

Factors in the Michigan child support formula

Michigan's support formula takes the following factors into account.

Parents' monthly net incomes

Net income is how much money you earn after taxes and other deductions. Adding together each parent's monthly net income determines their combined net income. The state uses this figure to set a base support obligation, or how much parents are expected to spend on their children each month.

Each parent is responsible for part of the base support obligation, proportional to their income. For example, if you earn 70 percent of the combined net income, you are responsible for 70 percent of the base support obligation.

Number of qualifying children

The more children involved in a case, the more support required. Qualifying children must be under 18 or still in high school. If a child has special needs, the court may order support beyond those limits.

Parenting time

As your annual overnight visits increase, your monthly obligation decreases because you're presumably spending more directly caring for the children. You can calculate your overnights instantly with Custody X Change, or count manually, taking into account holidays and one-time adjustments to the schedule.

If you have a reasonable parenting time arrangement, use your average number of annual overnights or ask the court to order a specific parenting time schedule.

Despite common misconceptions, equal parenting time (50/50) does not eliminate child support, nor does zero parenting time.

Medical, dental and child care costs

The guideline award factors in how much parents pay regularly toward medical/dental insurance and other health expenses for the children, as well as the cost of child care when parents are working or in school.

Child support examples

Consider the hypothetical case of Sarah and Jacob, who have two children. After deductions, Jacob's net income is $4,200 per month. Sarah earns $2,800 per month after deductions. Jacob pays for the children's health insurance, and they don't have child care costs.

Scenario 1

The children live primarily with Sarah and spend every other weekend with Jacob, giving him 73 overnight visits a year (an 80/20 schedule). Jacob pays $1,033 in monthly child support to Sarah.

Scenario 2

Sarah and Jacob change their summer break schedule so the children spend 109 overnights with Jacob a year (a 70/30 schedule). Now he pays $891 per month. Annually, this is $1,704 less.

Scenario 3

When the children are older, they live with Jacob three days per week in a 60/40 schedule. Jacob now has 146 overnights and pays $589 in monthly support, which is $5,328 less per year than in the first scenario.

Scenario 4

Sarah and Jacob decide to share time equally in a 50/50 schedule, giving Jacob 182 annual overnights. Now he pays $155 in monthly child support. Annually, this is $10,536 less child support than in the first scenario.

Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) cases

The DHHS Office of Child Support automatically opens a child support case when:

  • A parent receiving public assistance (for themself or their child) files for divorce
  • An unmarried parent without a child support order files for public assistance

In addition, unmarried parents can opt to use DHHS to determine child support (as well as paternity) even if they don't receive public assistance.

DHHS involvement can affect how support is calculated and paid; for example, the state may receive a portion of payments to make up for services it provides the family.

DHHS doesn't handle custody issues, so parents must still file a case in family court to get orders for custody and parenting time.

Unpaid child support

The Friend of the Court (FOC) office enforces child support orders. You must pay your child support even if the other parent breaks parenting time orders (and you must comply with parenting time orders even if the other parent fails to pay support).

When unpaid support equals or exceeds one month's court-ordered payment, the FOC automatically begins enforcement proceedings. Typically, it schedules a civil contempt hearing, which could result in fines or jail time.

Other possible penalties for not paying child support include:

  • Extra charges
  • Garnishment of your tax refunds
  • Issuance of a lien or levy against your property or assets
  • Denial, revocation or suspension of licenses for driving, hunting, your profession, etc.
  • Denial or revocation of your passport
Don't guess or estimate your overnights

Estimating your overnights can impact your support order by thousands of dollars a year.

The Custody X Change app lets you quickly and accurately calculate your exact parenting time and overnights. You can even tweak your schedule to see how even little changes, like holidays and one-time events, affect your time.

Remember that a child support order is legally binding. Whether you're paying or receiving the support, you want your overnights calculation to be exact. The number will affect you, your children and the other parent for years to come.

Estimating parenting time could cost you thousands a year in child support. Calculate your time precisely with Custody X Change.

Calculate My Overnights Now

Estimating parenting time could cost you thousands a year in child support. Calculate your time precisely with Custody X Change.

Calculate My Overnights
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Estimating parenting time could cost you thousands a year in child support. Calculate your time precisely with Custody X Change.

Calculate My Overnights Now

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