Although Michigan law requires child support to be paid in accordance with the Michigan Child Support Formula Manual, people often enter into a child support agreement that deviates from the formula. In certain circumstances were application of the Michigan Child Support Formula Manual would be unjust or inappropriate, the parties, with approval of the court can deviate from the Michigan Child Support Formula.
Which begs the question, what types of a child support agreement to deviate from the Michigan Child Support Formula are enforceable?
Child support agreements – the bad deals.
The following child support agreements to deviate from the Michigan Child Support Formula are not enforceable in Michigan:
- A child support agreement that bargains away their children’s right to support. Source: Macomb Co. Dep’t of Social Services v. Westerman.
- A child support agreement that makes child support non-modifiable. Source: Ballard v. Ballard.
- A child support agreement to “ignore the support order” if the other parent does not visit a child. Source: Ydrogo v. Ydrogo
- A child support agreement to place a ceiling on a support order in the future. Source: Carlston v. Carlston.
- A child support agreement to have child support terminate if the mother remarries. Source. Wiersma v. Wiersma, 245 Mich 565 (1928).
- A child support agreement that that triggers alimony payments from one parent in the same amount as child support ordered to be paid is unenforceable even when a parent pre-paid child support in the amount of $62,500.00. Source: Laffin v. Laffin.
A child support agreement to deviate from the Michigan Child Support Formula requires the court to set forth in writing or on the record:
- What the child support amount determined by application of the child support formula would be.
- How the child support order deviates from the child support formula.
- The value of property or other support awarded instead of the payment of child support, if applicable; and
- The reasons why application of the child support formula would be unjust or inappropriate in the case.
Source: MCL 552.605(2)
Before you make a child support “deal” make certain the deal is enforceable and obtain court approval to deviate from the Michigan Child Support Formula. If you don’t obtain court approval, your “deal” may not be worth the paper it is printed on (or the email – we are living in a digital world after all).
The good deals
There are many situations where deviation is appropriate. For example, if a child is living with a 3rd party custodian or on an academic scholarship a downward deviation from the Michigan Child Support Formula may be appropriate. An upward deviation may be appropriate if a child has special needs that are not covered by insurance. Deviation may also be appropriate when fairness so requires.
If you have a child support deviation question or frankly any family law concerns – Ask, we want to help.
About Findling Law:
I have been in practice for almost 20 years and practice exclusively in divorce and family law. My practice includes several attorneys who share the core value of practicing law to help people navigate change in their life, without compromising principles. We have extensive experience in high socio-economic, high profile and high conflict cases which has nurtured a skill set applicable to all divorce and family law cases regardless of socio-economic status. We recognize that it is the application of the law that is most important aspect of practice. That is why we provide more free information on divorce and family law than any other Michigan law firm.
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By: Daniel Findling