Divorces that involve families with minor children are often the most emotionally challenging and require the resolution of many additional potential issues. The primary concern should always be the best interests and welfare of the children which requires careful consideration of custody (legal and physical), parenting time and child support as well as other issues that which might be present in any specific case. Typically people will focus first on the custody issues, then parenting time issues and once that has all been worked out, child support must be addressed. Before entering into these discussions however, It is always wise to consult with a Michigan Divorce Lawyer beforehand to be fully educated about how these decisions may effect the children or yourself.
How is Child Support Determined?
Child support is determined by a formula that the Michigan Legislature adopted. It takes into account five factors;
- The number of overnights that each party has with the child or children per year,
- Each party's income and deductions (not all deductions allowed by the IRS will be considered deductions for child support purposes),
- The cost of health insurance that is attributable to the child,
- The cost of uninsured health care expenses for the child (deductibles, prescription co-pays and the like, not band-aids or Robitussin)
- Any child care costs paid until the child reaches age 12 (then it is no longer included in child support)
- Whether the payer of child support has a second family, or more specifically, the number of children the payer has with another person(s).
The number of overnights is determined by the parenting time schedule that the parties either agree upon or that the court otherwise orders and that factor is relatively easy to calculate once the parenting time schedule is determined. Income is also relatively easy in the case of W-2 wage earners, however it can become extremely complicated when a person is self-employed, works for a family owned business or has income that varies considerably from year-to-year. It can also be complicated by a parent that is attempting to reduce or eliminate income in order to avoid child support. These are all issues that Michigan Divorce Lawyers handle frequently and have determined time-proven methods to handle these situations.
The cost of health insurance that is attributable to the child is determined by figuring out the overall monthly cost of the health insurance for the party providing the insurance and then dividing that amount by the number of people covered. Only the amount attributable to the children is put into the formula. The parties then share the costs of the health insurance based upon a ratio of their comparative incomes. The same is true for child care until the first day of August after the child reaches age 12, after which time the child care costs are no longer included in the child care formula. Finally, each year the State of Michigan will publish a supplement to the formula which contains the estimated average annual out-of-pocket health care costs for a child, the current amount is $403. This amount is then prorated between the parties, again based upon the ratio of their comparative incomes to arrive at a monthly sum that is added into the child support. Then the person receiving the child support must pay the first $403 of out-of-pocket uninsured health care costs for the child, if the annual costs exceed that amount, then the parties split the excess costs based upon the ratio of their incomes (for instance if both parties earn equal income, the ratio would result in an equal division of the excess costs).
Finally, the support formula now takes into account whether the payer has additional children with another person or persons. If a payer has other children, then that will be included in the formula (there is only an allowance for the number of children and it is not dependent on how much or little child support that payer may be paying for the other child or children). The additional children will result in the payer paying a lower amount of child support based upon the formula.
How Much Child Support Will I Receive?
Our Michigan Divorce Attorney has access to child support formula calculation programs to help you determine this before you file for divorce or otherwise petition the court for child support. Our law firm can help you better understand what your future budget may look like and can help you petition the court to establish child support either on a temporary or a permanent basis. Contact us today to speak with a divorce lawyer about your situation.