How to Calculate Michigan Child Support

Child support is the amount that the State of Michigan requires a parent to pay to another person who has full or partial physical custody of the parent’s child. The State of Michigan calculates this amount using a mathematical formula to determine the financial support the parent needs to provide.

It takes into account the income of each parent, how much parenting time each parent has, and other factors:

1. First, calculate what is called base support.

Base support is how much the State of Michigan thinks your children cost monthly. This is a different amount for each parent. It is not simply the per capita increase in the poverty level per child in the household – it is based on the income of the parents. Base support is figured based on the parents’ combined incomes and the number of children. If you make a lot of money, it’s presumed that you spend a lot of money on the children. If you make little money, the formula presumes you don’t spend as much on the children. So, if you have a high income, you can expect to pay more in child support. If you have little money, you can expect your child support payments to be lower.

To get a figure for base support, the formula adds both parents’ incomes together. The child support formula says what counts as income and what doesn’t. The formula also allows for certain deductions. If you have other children who aren’t a part of this order, an allowance for them is deducted from your income. In cases where a party has no or little income, their income is figured differently or not counted at all.

The parents’ total income is applied to a table that says what percent of that income the parents should/likely/must put towards the children. Although as income increases, the percentage of income the State requires the parent to pay to the children’s support decreases, there is no ceiling in Michigan for child support payments, and without an order from the judge that says otherwise, payments will continue to increase as income increases.

2. Figure out what percent of base support each respective parent’s responsibility is.

Once the formula calculates a base support amount, the next step is to figure out how much base support each party’s responsibility is. If you make a lot more than the other parent, you’re expected to provide most of the child’s support. This is based on a percentage of income. For example, if base support is $1000 per month, and you make 80% of total parental income, your percent of base support is $800 per month.

3. Adjust your responsibility for parenting time.

If you have the children at least part of the time, you will not have to pay the other parent your full support responsibility. The formula assumes that the more time you spend with the children, the more you contribute directly to their needs. So, if you have the children part of the time, and your base support is $800 per month, you will not have to pay the other parent the whole amount. You will pay a portion of it, as determined by a formula. What you pay will be adjusted downward based on the number of overnights the children spend with you. Alternatively, if you receive support and the other parent has parenting time, they won’t pay you their entire base support amount. They’ll pay you a percentage of it, depending on the number of overnights the children spend with the other parent. This ensures that each parent has their state-determined share of child support to spend on the children during their parenting time.

4. Adjust for medical insurance premiums.

If one parent provides medical insurance for the children, the other parent must contribute to their medical insurance premiums. Does one parent provide medical insurance? If so, the other parent must contribute their share of the children’s out-of-pocket medical premium cost based on a percentage of income. This will be added to or deducted from child support, depending on who provides medical insurance. Again, if one parent makes significantly more than the other, they will have to pay the lion’s share of the medical insurance premiums.

5. Adjust for childcare payments.

Do the children attend daycare? If so, the paying parent will pay the other for daycare in advance. This is, like medical insurance premiums, based on a percentage of income. The parent who receives support then pays daycare bills as they incur. This way, both parents contribute to daycare. There are certain rules for what counts as appropriate daycare and what doesn’t, and until what age the children receive daycare.

6. Add ordinary medical.

Ordinary medical is not medical insurance premiums. The formula presumes that each child incurs a certain amount of unpaid medical costs each year for things like copays and bills that insurance doesn’t cover. Band-aids and cough syrup and the like are not ordinary medical. Those things are covered by base support. Ordinary medical is unpaid medical bills. This is a fixed amount per child. This cost is payable according to the percentage of income. It is added to support. Then, the person who receives support pays for ordinary medical bills as they incur during the year until the bills reach the total medical amount. After that, unpaid medical is paid according to the percentage of income. If the receiving parent wishes to claim extraordinary medical bills, they must keep records of bills and expenditures.

7. Total

After base calculations and all the adjustments, additions, and subtractions, the resulting amount is the total amount of support. Of course, there are exceptions to the rules and exceptions to the exceptions. What is discussed here is just the basics. Because of the exceptions, and the exceptions to the exceptions, and the complicated parenting time formula, most people (and attorneys) don’t do manual child support calculations.

What are the new child support laws in Michigan?

The most recent update to Michigan’s child support laws occurred in 2021. Here are some key points:

  • Increased Medical Coverage: The Michigan child support formula now allocates a larger portion of the payment towards a child’s medical coverage. This ensures children have access to necessary medical care.
  • Support for Parents with No Income: The court can now consider lowering or even temporarily pausing child support payments for a parent who demonstrably cannot earn income. This offers flexibility in situations like unemployment or disability.

Here are some resources where you can find the latest information on Michigan child support laws:

Does Child Support Increase if Salary Increases in Michigan?

In Michigan, child support payments may increase if a parent’s salary increases, but it’s not automatic. A significant increase in a parent’s income can trigger a review for a possible modification of child support. However, what constitutes a “significant” increase is not clearly defined and depends on the current support amount and the overall financial situation of both parents.

To seek an increase in child support based on a salary increase, the custodial parent or the Friend of the Court (FOC) agency in Michigan can file a petition for modification with the court. This process is necessary to initiate a review and potential adjustment of the support amount.

When considering a modification, the court will review the new income information along with the needs of the children. Factors such as increased cost of living, changes in childcare expenses, and changes in the medical needs of the child are taken into account. The court evaluates these factors to determine if an adjustment in the child support amount is warranted.

Michigan courts typically require a minimum change in the support amount before modifying an order. This threshold is often set at an increase or decrease of $50 per month or 10% of the current support amount. If the change does not meet this threshold, the court may not consider a modification.

If you believe your ex-partner’s salary has increased significantly and that it might warrant a child support modification, it is advisable to consult with an attorney specializing in family law. They can guide you through the specific steps involved in filing a petition for modification and represent you in court. This legal support can help ensure that you navigate the process effectively and advocate for the appropriate adjustment in child support.

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About the author
Growing up in Detroit, Lindsey is a Michigan State University alumnus. She feels incredibly lucky to live in Detroit, and much more, to spend her days promoting the Detroit area as a travel destination.