Child Support

Ensuring financial stability following a divorce is obviously a foremost concern – particularly when children are involved. To serve those ends, Michigan has set out child support guidelines to ensure that families with children are able to maintain financial health, regardless of the house at which a child resides at any given time.

Statutory guidelines and a “formula” are applied when determining how much monthly child support a parent must pay. Basic factors include the number of children, parents’ incomes and necessary living expenses, and how much time children will spend with each parent. It is critical to consider health insurance costs and day care expenses.

Additionally, it is important to bare in mind that a spouse who is voluntarily underemployed or unemployed may not be relieved of duty to contribute to support.

Child Support Issues?

Michigan's Child Support Formula and Facts

Our attorneys will work tenaciously to ensure you obtain a fair outcome within these guidelines – or by seeking a deviation justified by children’s special needs or other special circumstances. Additionally, as necessary we are able to work to help obtain or defend against modification as these issues arise in the months and years following a divorce.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How is child support determined?

A:        The amount of child support is calculated using the Michigan Child Support Formula. It takes into account:

  • Both parents’ incomes
  • The number of overnights each parent exercises
  • The number of children supported
  • Children’s health insurance premiums
  • Child care costs
  • Other factors

Q: What if we agree to a different amount not based on the formula?

A:         The court must order support according to the formula unless the result would be unfair or inappropriate. If the parents reach an agreement about the child support amount, the court can consider the agreement, but it does not have to approve it.  In most cases the courts will approve an amount that is more than the formula amount but rarely will they approve an amount below the formula amount.

Q: What if the other parent is unemployed or underemployed?

A:     If a parent is unemployed or has chosen to reduce his or her income, the court may decide the party has the ability to earn more. In this situation, the court may calculate and order support based on imputed (potential) income. Imputed income is the amount the court decides the party has the ability to earn; it is not the amount actually earned.

Q: What if I'm paying my child's health insurance?

A:    When child support is ordered the court issues an order called a Uniform Child Support Order (UCSO). The UCSO requires the payer to pay a monthly amount for child support. The monthly amount includes base support plus or minus the amount that either parent pays for health-care insurance premiums.

For example, if the payer provides health care insurance for the children, and pays a premium for that insurance, part of the premium cost may be subtracted from the base support amount.

If the payee provides health care insurance for the children, and pays a premium for that insurance, part of the premium cost may be added to the base support amount.

The monthly child support amount also includes amounts for child care (based on the actual costs) and for ordinary medical expenses (currently $345 a year for each child). Ordinary medical expenses are costs for uninsured things like office visits and prescription co-pays. Ordinary medical expenses do not include care provided by parents, like first aid supplies and over-the-counter medicines.

The UCSO also states how extraordinary medical expenses should be paid. Extraordinary medical expenses are uninsured costs that are above the amount allowed for ordinary medical expenses in a calendar year. These extraordinary expenses are called uninsured health-care expenses.

Usually each parent is ordered to pay a percentage of these extraordinary health-care expenses based on income. It is up to the payee to provide proof of both ordinary and extraordinary medical expenses and to ask the payer to pay their share of those costs.

Q: How does the parent actually pay the support to the other parent?

A:  The Michigan State Disbursement Unit (MiSDU) and the Friend of the Court(FOC) work together to collect and distribute child support payments. In most cases, child support payments are automatically withheld from the payer’s wages and MiSDU forwards them to the payee. Both the payer and the payee get a copy of the income withholding order when support is paid this way.

Sometimes income withholding is not possible because the payer is self-employed or for other reasons. In those cases the payer must make payments directly to MiSDU. Sometimes the parties agree to an alternative payment arrangement. If payments are not made through MiSDU, the payee must let the FOC know they received the payments so the payer gets credit.

Q: What happens if the child support payer fails to pay child support?

A:  If the parent that owes child support becomes substantially behind in his or her payments, a motion can be filed in which the payer could potentially lose his his or her driver’s license, occupational license and go to jail.

Q: How can child support be modified?

A:  The Michigan State Disbursement Unit (MiSDU) and the Friend of the Court(FOC) work together to collect and distribute child support payments. In most cases, child support payments are automatically withheld from the payer’s wages and MiSDU forwards them to the payee. Both the payer and the payee get a copy of the income withholding order when support is paid this way.

Sometimes income withholding is not possible because the payer is self-employed or for other reasons. In those cases the payer must make payments directly to MiSDU. Sometimes the parties agree to an alternative payment arrangement. If payments are not made through MiSDU, the payee must let the FOC know they received the payments so the payer gets credit.

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Sterling Heights, MI  48314
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Talia@LawGroupGC.com
Tonya@LawGroupGC.com