Underlying child support is the notion that both parents share the duty of supporting their children. To ensure that children receive the proper care, child support is collected to help pay for the expenses associated with a child’s needs; such as housing and utilities, clothing, uninsured medical expenses, transportation, food, extracurricular activities, and entertainment. In Michigan, child support is calculated using a specific method, referred to as the Michigan Child Support Formula. This Formula must be used in calculating child support and, in most situations, courts apply it very strictly with little variance and few exceptions. We can help you with child support issues. Contact us online or call (248) 479-6200
The Michigan Child Support Formula and How it Works
In Oakland County and all other Michigan counties, the Friend of the Court Bureau is responsible for establishing and modifying the Child Support Formula. The formula is reviewed and changed periodically to reflect economic changes, such as tax law revisions. When the formula must be modified due to economic changes, the Friend of the Court Bureau issues a new formula.
The Michigan Child Support Formula can be complicated to use, however, many practicing Family Law Attorneys use software specifically designed to calculate child support using the Michigan Child Support Formula. Our Oakland County Family Law Office uses such software, which makes calculating child support for parents that are considered “W-2” employees relatively easy. Calculating child support for parents who are self-employed, unemployed, or who are considered “1099” employees can be more complex. Fortunately, the formula takes into account these possible scenarios and provides guidance for how to conduct those calculations as well. You can find child support calculators online, but beware. Not all of them are up-to-date and accurate. We take care to have the most up-to-date and accurate Child Support Formula software available for our clients.
The formula accounts for various items, such as the amount of parenting time each parent has, the income tax filing status of each parent, the income of each parent, the cost of providing medical and child care to the children, any other mandatory deductions from each parent’s paycheck, the number of minor children involved in the case, alimony being paid or received, other children for whom child support is being paid, and other similar factors. However, it does not account for the following items: how much a parent pays for their rent or mortgage, utilities, other household expenses, or car payments, etc.
What Counts as Income
For purposes of calculating child support, a parent’s net income will be considered. The following are some examples of what the Friend of the Court may consider income:
(1) wages, overtime pay, and commissions;
(2) bonuses and profits generated from a business or contract;
(3) interest, dividends, and gambling or lottery winnings;
(5) potential income of a parent that is voluntarily unemployed;
(6) tax deductions;
(7) gifts or free admission to entertainment; etc.
While some of these items may not be relevant in some cases, they can give you an idea of what the Friend of the Court considers in determining a parent’s income. The ultimate goal is to determine how much a parent should have available for the support of the child.
Deviation from the Formula
As previously mentioned, Friend of the Court is reluctant to deviate from the formula. However, under a limited number of circumstances, it would be unjust to strictly use the formula without accounting for extraordinary circumstances. When the facts of a case call the Friend of the Court to account for circumstances that would make it unjust to use only the formula, it will refer to the following “deviation factors:”
1) The child has special needs.
2) The child has extraordinary educational expenses.
3) A parent is a minor.
4) The child’s residence income is below the threshold to qualify for public assistance, and at least one parent has sufficient income to pay additional support that will raise the child’s standard of living above the public assistance threshold.
5) A parent has a reduction in the income available to support a child due to extraordinary levels of jointly accumulated debt.
6) The court awards property in lieu of support for the benefit of the child.
7) A parent is incarcerated with minimal or no income or assets.
8) A parent has incurred, or is likely to incur, extraordinary medical expenses for either that parent or a dependent.
9) A parent earns an income of a magnitude not fully taken into consideration by the formula.
10) A parent receives bonus income in varying amounts or at irregular intervals.
11) Someone other than the parent can supply reasonable and appropriate health care coverage.
12) A parent provides substantially all the support for a stepchild, and the stepchild’s parents earn no income and are unable to earn income.
13) A child earns an extraordinary income.
14) The court orders a parent to pay taxes, mortgage installments, home insurance premiums, telephone or utility bills, etc. before entry of a final judgment or order.
15) A parent must pay significant amounts of restitution, fines, fees, or costs associated with the parent’s conviction or incarceration for a crime other than those related to failing to support children, or a crime against a child in the current case or that child’s sibling, other parent, or custodian.
16) A parent makes payments to a bankruptcy plan or has debt discharged, when neither significantly impacts the monies that parent has available to pay support.
17) A parent provides a substantial amount of a child’s day-time care and directly contributes toward a significantly greater share of the child’s costs than those reflected by the overnights used to calculate the offset for parental time.
18) A child in the custody of a third-party recipient spends a significant number of overnights with the payer that causes a significant savings in the third party’s expenses.
19) The court ordered non-modifiable spousal support paid between the parents before October 2004.
20) When a parent’s share of net child care expenses exceeds 50 percent of that parent’s base support obligation calculated under §3.02 before applying the parenting time offset.
21) Any other factors that the court deems relevant to the best interests of a child.
How Child Support is Collected
Child support is most often collected automatically from a parent’s source of income. An Order for Income Withholding is issued to the parent’s employer, the unemployment office, pension plans, or any other source of income. The Order for Income Withholding is a garnishment order that is taken as a payroll deduction. These garnishment orders can be enforced by seizing and selling a person’s assets, through show cause hearings, and/or by contempt of court actions.
While many online sources purport to calculate child support using the Michigan Child Support formula, some of those versions of the formula are out-of-date and have not been updated recently. When attempting to calculate child support, you should contact an experienced and skilled lawyer to assist you to ensure that the amount calculated is accurate. If you need assistance calculating child support, changing a child support order, or filing for child support, it is in your best interest to consult with a Family Law attorney who can help you.
People facing child support issues often encounter confusion about what Michigan Child Support Law requires, how the formula works, and what concerns the court will consider. If you find yourself in that position, call us. We can help.
We Can Help
We are available for phone consultations and meetings during and after business hours. Our office is conveniently located at 30300 Northwestern Highway. That’s located in the Gem Building near 13 Mile and Northwestern. Office hours are by appointment only.