Understanding the Changes to Michigan’s Child Support Law

Understanding the Changes to Michigan’s Child Support Law

Many people do not have the time to keep updated on recent changes to child support in Michigan. But, Michigan residents and parents dealing with child support, paternity, and other family law issues may find it very helpful to learn about the several new laws that went into effect in the last several years. 

Michigan is estimated to collect over a billion dollars annually in child support. The intent of updating child support laws in Michigan is to make the existing child support and paternity process more efficient and thereby reduce the amount of past due payments owed.

What is the Michigan Child Support Formula?

Calculating the proper child support amount is important for several reasons. Firstly, it ensures fairness by requiring both parents to contribute financially to the upbringing and welfare of their children based on their respective incomes and resources. This helps ensure a fair and equitable distribution of financial responsibility. Secondly, child support is essential for the well-being of the child. It ensures that their basic needs, such as food, clothing, shelter, education, and healthcare, are met. By calculating an appropriate child support amount, the necessary financial support is provided to meet these needs and maintain the child’s well-being.

You can find the present child support formulas and historical data at the Michigan Courts website. These laws were most recently adjusted in 2021. 

Michigan child support guidelines say that the first step to calculating the court-ordered child support amount is determining the income between the parents. The court will determine each parent’s “net income” in order to tell how much is available to pay child support. Net income is calculated by consideration of the following aspects: 

  • Income (& Low-Income Considerations)
  • Allowable Deductions 
  • Number of Children Living at Home 

Once the net income for each parent is calculated, they will use it in the following formula to determine the child care amount: 

{A + [B x (C – D)]} x E = G

A = Base Support

B = Marginal Percentage

C = Monthly Net Family Income (§3.02(B)(1))

D = Monthly Income Level

E = Parent’s Percentage Share of Family Income (§3.02(B)(1))

G = Base Support obligation using the General Care Equation

Another main factor in child support obligations is how many children you have:

  • 1 Child – 83% multiplier 
  • 2 Children – 75% multiplier
  • 3 Children – 68% multiplier
  • 4 Children – 64% multiplier
  • 5 Children or more – 60% multiplier

It’s important to note that while the formula provides a guideline, the court can deviate from it if certain circumstances warrant a different child support amount. Additionally, the formula may not apply in certain situations, such as shared parenting arrangements where both parents have nearly equal parenting time.

Consulting with a family law attorney is highly recommended to obtain an accurate calculation and understand how the Michigan Child Support Formula specifically applies to your case. They can assess your circumstances, gather the necessary financial information, and provide guidance on the child support calculation process.

What if my Child is Over 18 Years Old?

In Michigan, child support generally ends when the child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later. However, there are exceptions to this general rule. If the child has special health care needs or a disability that requires ongoing support, parenting time does not end, and child support can continue beyond the age of 18. In such cases, the court may order the continuation of child support to ensure the child’s needs are met. Additionally, if the child is still attending high school on a full-time basis and is expected to graduate before turning 19, child support may be extended until their graduation.

Paternity Child Support Laws in Michigan

Changes in the paternity and child support laws go hand-in-hand. A few changes in the child support law that could affect parents include prosecution for non-support if it can be determined that the child support payer was aware of the case. Additionally, new changes make it easier to redirect child support payments to a new caregiver if a child is placed outside their home.

Changes in existing paternity laws include:

  • Using a positive genetic test as a conclusive means of accepting paternity without a court determination if certain factors are satisfied
  • Noting the specific conditions where a man can be labeled or considered to be the biological father of a child
  • Streamlining the process of establishing paternity and child support orders
  • Offering parents struggling to pay child support alternate means of payment which the court will monitor
  • Giving parents the option to file a petition to show that a biological father is not the father of a child
  • Giving courts the ability to take into consideration the best interests of the child when determining if parental rights should be revoked or not

Source: Michigan Radio, “New state laws intended to streamline Michigan’s child support system,” Steve Carmody, Dec. 29, 2014

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