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How Child Support is Determined

An Introduction to Child Support in Michigan

Children are legally entitled to support from their natural or biological parents. When the parents separate or divorce, one parent will have to pay support for the child to the other parent. Sometimes, if parents share equal custody and their incomes are the same, the amount of support could be zero. In Michigan, child support is determined by the Michigan child support formula. This formula is based on the actual needs of the children and the financial resources of the parents. The formula also considers childcare and healthcare expenses and other issues such as stepchildren.

What Does Child Support Cover?

A parent is not required to give an accounting of their child support spending. A parent is expected to pay for housing, utilities, food, clothing, transportation, and everyday expenses to be expected while raising a child. Our clients often ask us whether extracurricular activities, such as sport’s equipment, school trips, and tutoring are included. The child support formula does not address extracurricular spending. Often parents agree to share the additional cost of extracurricular activities. If you anticipate extracurricular activities in the future, you should have that issue addressed in your court order. For example, the court order could state that Johnny will start playing football in high school and the custodial parent will pay for the equipment, and if the parents agree that Johnny will also play the trumpet in high school, then the noncustodial parent will pay 50% of the equipment and lessons.


If there are compelling circumstances, the judge may deviate from the child support formula. Some examples of the most common situations that allow for deviation are:

  • the child has special needs;
  • a parent received property in the divorce judgment in lieu of child support;
  • a parent is ordered to pay taxes, mortgage payments, home insurance or other expenses prior to the entry of the divorce judgment;
  • a parent earns a significant income it cannot be fully taken into consideration by the formula;
  • the child has extraordinary educational expenses’
  • a parent provides a lot of care to the child during the day and pays for a greater share of the child’s cost than those reflected by the overnights used in the formula.


Child support can be reviewed every three years. The Friend of the Court will send both parents a notice that they may request a review. Child support can also be reviewed if a change in circumstances occurred or a proper cause exists.

When Should I Request a Child Support Review?

if your circumstances changed, (i.e., new employment, daycare is canceled, etc.), you should request a review as soon as possible. Child support cannot be modified retroactively. In other words, if you were terminated from your employment in February and you did not file a motion until May, you will be ordered to pay child support based on your higher income from February to May.

Can I Withhold Parenting Time When a Parent Is Not Paying Child Support?

In Michigan, parenting time and child support are not related. Your child support will remain owing, and you may miss the window of opportunity to file a parenting time violation.

Schedule a Consultation

The Kraayeveld law attorneys provide representation to fathers and mothers in child support disputes and other child custody related matters.  Call us to schedule your consultation.