October 21, 2016

Does child support ever deviate from the formula?

Whether you are the custodial or non-custodial parent in a divorce case, you may be ordered to pay child support as part of the divorce settlement. In Michigan, the court generally orders the non-custodial parent to pay a set child support amount. This amount is generally calculated using a basic formula that takes into account both parents’ income, the living situation of the child and the families overall quality of life. There are situations, however, where the court-ordered child support may deviate from this formula.

Depending on the circumstances surrounding the case, the court-appointed judge may choose to order the non-custodial parent to pay more or less child support, according to the Michigan Child Support Formula Manual. For example, if the child has special needs that requires extraordinary medical care or excessive educational expenses, the judge may increase the child support amount in order to cover part of these extra costs.

Additional factors that may cause the child support amount to deviate from the formula include the following:

  •          A parent is under the age of 18.
  •          One parent is incarcerated.
  •          Either parent has lost a job and is struggling to pay off debt that was accumulated by both parents.
  •          One of the parents earns a bonus that varies in frequency and amount.

When the custodial parent has an income that qualifies him or her for state or federal assistance and the non-custodial parent has a higher income, the court may adjust the non-custodial parent’s child support so that the child will no longer qualify for public assistance. In some cases, the judge may award property, such as a home or vehicle, that will cover some of the child support amount.

This information is intended to educate and should not be taken as legal advice.