HOW IS CHILD SUPPORT CALCULATED IN MICHIGAN
This blog is the first in a series of blogs about child support in Michigan. This first blog explains in a basic way possible how the family law court in Michigan calculates child support for people that are not represented by an attorney. The remaining blogs in the series will explain the various ways that a good divorce lawyer may argue to increase or decrease the child support based upon the facts of the case.
Child support is based upon a complicated formula that the Michigan legislature adopted by statue. Because family law and marriage are based upon statutory law in Michigan (as opposed to states that recognize common law marriage) it is mandatory to first apply the formula to every case. If the court approves, the parties to the case (the parents) may agree to change the amount of the child support (deviate) or waive child support ($0.00 child support paid by either parent). However the court may not approve the deviation or waiver and still order child support based upon the formula despite the wish of one or even both parents. It is always wise to have an attorney appear in court with the parties if they are seeking to deviate from the child support formula or waive child support entirely. As stated above, there are several arguments under statutory law that a good attorney may make to the court in order to force the court to accept the deviation or in cases where the other side does not agree to deviate, to argue to the court for a deviation. If the court agrees then the court will order more or less child support than the formula would dictate depending on the requirements of the, child(ren), the parties and sound legal argument by the attorney.
Getting back to the basic child support formula, it is based upon: the number of children, each parent's income as reported to the Friend of the Court by the parent, the number of overnights the child(ren) have with each parent, health insurance premiums paid by either parent on behalf of the child(ren) and (for children under the age of 12) verifiable, work-related childcare expenses. All of these factors go into the formula and then the formula will kick out a number for the basic child support.
The total amount of payable support will also increase or decrease based upon a health insurance premium supplement that will essentially reimburse a parent for a portion of the health insurance premiums that he or she pays on behalf of the child or children. A childcare supplement that will reimburse a parent for a portion of the work-related childcare expenses that he or she pays on behalf of the child(ren) and an ordinary health care supplement. The ordinary health care supplement is paid to the parent that has more overnights with the child or children. It is based upon a statistical average of the out-of-pocket medical expenses a parent pays on behalf of a child in one year in Michigan (currently $403 per child per year). The parent paying child support will pay a percent of this $403 dollars over a twelve (12) month period in addition to the base child support. This amount is determined by adding together the parents' incomes and determining what percent of each total is attributable to each parent's income. Then the parent that receives this supplement is responsible for paying up to the first $403 of deductibles etc. per year, per child. If the parent then spends over the $403 for a child in a year, then the parents split the out-of-pocket costs along the same percent.
It is easy to see that child support is a very complicated issue. Most people and many attorneys, even those that practice in the area of family law, are not aware of the different possibilities that exist to increase or decrease child support in situations where the child support formula does not fully take into account the individual parent or child's situations. If you or someone you know has questions regarding the fairness of the amount of child support that he or she is paying or receiving, please do not hesitate to contact Cameron C. Goulding at (248) 608-4123 or [email protected] to schedule a consultation.