Lansing & Okemos Family Law Lawyers

Child Support & Child Support Calculations

Child support includes payments for the general care and needs of a child, medical support, and child care expenses (if applicable).  The parent paying child support is called the payor and the parent receiving the child support payments is called the payee.

Okemos Child Support AttorneysHow is child support calculated?

The Friend of the Court Bureau, a division of the State Court Administrator’s Office, developed a Michigan Child Support Formula Manual.  The law requires that Courts throughout Michigan use this formula when determining child support.

The formula calculation takes into consideration various custody arrangements.  Even if the parties share joint physical custody of the child(ren), one party may still owe child support to the other due to a discrepancy in income or because of health care costs.

Marginsoft is the software program that is commonly used by counties throughout Michigan, which incorporates the child support formula and the factors taken into consideration.  The attorneys at BLF can help you calculate the likely amount of child support that will be awarded in your case.

What items are included in a child support calculation?

There are several factors that are used in the child support calculation, including:

  • Each parents’ net income
    • Net income is very inclusive and means all income minus deductions and adjustments per the formula
    • Income may be imputed when a parent is voluntarily unemployed, underemployed or has an unexercised ability to earn income
  • Number of children
  • Overnight parenting time of each parent
  • Other support obligations for additional minor children
  • Custody of other children (not the parties children)
  • Health care costs
  • Child care costs for any minor child(ren)

Are there items that are not included in a child support calculation?

There are also several items that are NOT considered in the child support calculation, including:

  • Expenses/bills of the parties
  • Alimony/spousal support paid/received between the parents in this particular case
  • Lack of parenting time for the person paying child support
  • Re-marriage/new spouse for either party

How is child support paid?

The Friend of the Court office in the county where the Court ordered child support payments typically handles the receipt of child support payments from the payor and disbursement to the payee.

However, it is possible to pay child support directly between the parties.  This usually requires “opting out” of Friend of the Court services, which has long-term implications and is a decision that cannot be made lightly. It is important to have an experienced attorney advise you before “opting out” of these services. “Opting out” of Friend of the Court must also be approved by the Judge assigned to your case.

Can child support be modified?

Child support is modifiable in Michigan. The parties cannot agree to “non-modifiable” child support.  It is important to note, child support cannot be changed retroactively; it can only be changed for payments going forward in the future.  The current Michigan Child Support Formula Manual indicates that the “minimum threshold for modification” is 10% of the currently ordered support payment or $50 per month, whichever is greater.

If you have experienced a change in circumstances that you think may warrant a change to the child support amount, contact our office for a review of your situation. We will work with you to determine the best course of action to pursue in your case.

Can the Court deviate from the child support formula?

A Court can exercise its discretion and deviate from the child support formula if applying the formula will lead to an unjust or inappropriate result.  When a Court decides to deviate, it should still follow the formula except for the provisions that create an unjust or inappropriate result in that particular case.

The following are some of the situations where a strict application of the formula may produce an unjust or inappropriate result in a case:

  • A child has special needs
  • The child has extraordinary educational expenses
  • A parent is a minor
  • The child’s residence income is below the threshold to qualify for public assistance, and at least one parent has sufficient income to pay additional support that will raise the child’s standard of living above the public assistance threshold
  • A parent has a reduction in the income available to support a child due to extraordinary levels of jointly accumulated debt
  • The Court awards property in lieu of support for the benefit of the child
  • A parent is incarcerated with minimal or no income or assets
  • A parent has incurred, or is likely to incur, extraordinary medical expenses for him/herself or a dependent
  • A parent earns an income of a magnitude not fully taken into consideration by the formula
  • A parent receives bonus amounts income in varying amounts or at irregular intervals
  • A parent provides substantially all of the support for a stepchild, and the stepchild’s parents earn no income and are unable to earn income
  • A parent makes payments to a bankruptcy plan or has debt discharged, when either significantly impacts the monies that parent has available to pay support
  • The Court orders a parent to pay taxes, mortgage installments, home insurance premiums, telephone or utility bills, etc. before entry of a final judgment or order


At your initial consultation, a BLF attorney can prepare child support guidelines under a variety of scenarios based on information you provide.  While this is not the final child support order; it will give you an indication of what the child support order may be in your case.  The final child support amount will be ordered by the Court.

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