Michigan Child Support Calculator

Improving Advocacy in Michigan Family Law©

Deviating From the Formula

 

A calculation using the child support formula is a presumption. It is a presumption of the correct amount of support in any given case, based on the requested inputs. Unless evidence points otherwise, the court should order the amount of support calculated by the formula.

 

But sometimes, circumstances are such that applying the formula strictly is unfair. Your judge can decide this on a case-by-case basis.

 

In this writer's opinion, the child support formula is strictly applied far more often than it ought to be. Too often, lawyers don't ask courts to deviate from the formula when deviation is appropriate.

 

The court can consider any factors that it decides is relevant. The Michigan Child Support Manual lists some circumstances in which it might be unfair to apply the formula strictly:

 

1. The child has special needs.
2. The child has extra education costs.
3. One of the parents is a minor.
4. The payer of support could pay enough extra that it would raise the child’s residence above the public assistance threshold.
5. One parent has debt that both parties contributed to, so the party with the debt has less money available to pay.
6. The court awards property instead of cash.
7. A parent is in jail with few assets.
8. A parent has unusual medical expenses, either for themselves or for a dependent.
9. A parent has an income that formula doesn’t really take into account.
10. A parent gets irregular bonuses.
11. Someone other than a parent can provide health coverage.
12. A parent provides almost all the support for a step child, and the step child’s parent is unable to earn an income.
13. The child earns an extraordinary income.
14. The court orders one parent to pay daily expenses like a mortgage or utility bills while the case is pending.
15. One parent has to pay fines associated with their criminal conviction. Certain crimes do not qualify, see the child support manual.
16. A parent is making bankruptcy payments, if that impacts what they have available for support.
17. A parent provides a lot of a child’s day-time care, so they have a greater share of the child’s costs than it looks like by using overnights.
18. Any other relevant factor.

 

Other things to think about:

 

The judge cannot deviate from the formula simply because they disagree with the policies behind the formula.

 

If the parties agree to deviate from the formula, the court can go along with it. See MCL 552.605(3).