Child support in Michigan
Child support is an ongoing periodic payment to a parent for the support of a minor child. The primary factors in determining the child support amount are the income of the parties and the number of overnights awarded to each party. Child support in Michigan is potentially one of the most contentious issues in a family law case.
Resources and Answers to your questions
Child support in Michigan explained – The Basics
Child Support in Michigan is money that should be used for the support of a child. However, there is no obligation for a parent to trace how the money is used. It is expected that child support in Michigan will be used for food, shelter, clothing, healthcare, entertainment and the costs associated with raising kids.
Michigan Courts are obligated to follow the Michigan Child Support Formula Manual. While a Court can deviate from the formula, it is a complex process and best handled by an attorney.
The last major revision was in January 2017, when significant changes to the Michigan Child Support Formula Manual. A copy of the 2017 Michigan Child Support Formula Manual can be found here. The last major revision to the Michigan Child Support Formula Manual was in 2013. A copy of the 2013 Michigan Child Support Formula Manual can be found here.
Most lawyers and courts have a computer program that applies the
Michigan Child Support Formula Manual to your specific case. We are happy to run child support figures for you during your free consultation.
Most lawyers and courts have a computer program that applies the Michigan Child Support Formula Manual to your specific case. We are happy to run child support figures for you during your free consultation.
Under the Michigan Child Support Formula Manual it is apparent that overnights and the income of the parties are the primary factors in determining the amount of child support. These two factors effect child support more than any other. The other considerations, include, dependency exemptions, child care, and health insurance costs.
Both parents are obligated to support a child regardless of the parent’s financial situation. Child support is typically paid to the parent with the majority of overnights, and not necessarily the parent with physical custody. The amount of child support is related to the parties’ respective incomes.
Child support in Michigan explained – The Details
The Family Support Act, MCLA 552.451 et. seq. and MCLA 722.711 et. seq. creates a statutory duty for parents to support a child with whom they are not living. In other words, the parent with physical custody or the majority of parenting time generally receives child support. The non-custodial parent or the parent with less overnights typically pays child support.
- Child Support in Michigan duration: Michigan’s child support laws allow a court to order child support for a child who is nder the age of 18 or until a child is 19 1/2 if they are full time high school students.
- Post-Majority Support (College): While Michigan families may have a moral obligation to support a child after he/she turns 18. There is no legal obligation for post majority child support in Michigan. However, parties can agree (as part of a global settlement) to pay for a child’s post-majority or college related expenses. If the parties reach an agreement, the agreement is enforceable.
- Equal parenting time (joint physical custody) and child support: An award of joint physical custody or equal parenting time will not avoid a child support award unless the parties have equal incomes. If the parties have unequal incomes and equal overnights, child support is awarded. It is becoming more common for courts to order joint physical custody and concentrate on overnights and income in determining the amount of child support in Michigan.
The Law – Child support in Michigan case law and statutes
Amount of child support
Calley v Calley, 197 Mich App 380 (1992) There is a rebuttable presumption in favor of setting support at the level recommended by the Michigan Child Support Formula.
Nelis v Nelis, 211 Mich App 226 (1995) A Michigan court must order child support in an amount determined by applying the Michigan child support formula manual or may enter a child support order that deviates from the formula if the application of the formula would be unjust or unfair.
Good v Armstrong, 218 Mich App 1 (1996) In determining the level of child support, the court is not limited to the payer’s income. The court may also consider the payer’s financial situation.
Voluntary reduction of income
Rohloff v Rohloff, 161 Mich App 766 (1987) When a party voluntarily reduces or eliminates income and the court concludes that the party has the ability to earn an income, the court can order Michigan child support based on the unexercised ability to earn income.
Olson v Olson, 189 Mich App 620 (1991) A court is not limited to a parent’s actual income in setting Michigan child support payments and may consider an unexercised ability to earn income.
Good v Armstrong, 218 Mich App 1 (1996) Modification is within the sound discretion of the trial court upon showing of a change in circumstances justifying Michigan child support modification.
Statue of Limitations: The Statute of limitations on unpaid child support is 10 years from the date the last payment was due. Under some circumstances, the Statute of limitations can be re-set.
Frequently Asked Questions
If child support payments are not made, can parenting time be denied? Michigan law provides that a child shall have a right to visit with his/her parents unless it is shown on the record that there is clear and convincing evidence that it would endanger the minor child. Parenting time cannot be denied if child support payments are not made. Michigan does provide penalties for not paying child support, however, the penalties cannot include termination or suspension of parenting time.
If I have joint physical custody do I still have to pay child support? A child support award is calculated in cases with joint custody. Joint physical custody does not have to mean equal parenting time. Child support is primarily based on the number of overnights the child spends with a parent and the income of the parties.
What if we have equal parenting time (visitation) is support ordered? Child support will still be ordered unless the parties have the same income.
If I have more parenting time or custody, will I receive child support? As a general rule, the parent with the most overnights receives child support. Child support is also based on the income of the parties along with the costs of daycare and healthcare expenses. The Michigan Child Support Formula Manual is utilized to determine the amount of child support paid and received by parties.
What is the statue of limitations on child support? The Statute of limitations on unpaid child support is 10 years from the date the last payment was due. Under some circumstances, the Statute of limitations can be re-set.
Can a court order a parent to pay for college? No, unless the parties agree to do so.
Child support in Michigan articles
Child support modification.
Michigan law provides that child support modification is within the sound discretion of the trial court upon showing of a change in circumstances justifying Michigan child support modification. Good v Armstrong, 218 Mich App 1 (1996). A change of circumstance is typically, when the income of the parties change or the number of overnights exercised by the parties change. Other change of circumstances may include the cost of daycare, insurance or simply a new addition to the family.
Most Friend of the Court’s will allow you to request a review of child support every three years simply by contacting the court. Of course, you always have the option of filing a motion with the court to modifying the Judgment of Divorce and we can help.
By: Daniel Findling
The Divorce Guy, Michigan Divorce Attorneys and Specialists