We are often asked by individuals how much child support they will have to pay. In some states, child support calculations are a very simple, straight percentage of income, say 19%. Michigan is not one of these states. Michigan uses a rather complex formula to calculate child support payments.
Child support is only ordered in a case when the parents live apart, as a starting point. Beyond that, it is based on the father’s after-tax income, the mother’s after-tax income, as well as the number of overnights each person has with the child. Other factors include whether either parent has other children, and tax considerations, such as whether the parent is married or single and who claims the children as a tax dependent. The calculation will also include an allocation of health and dental insurance premiums and work or school related child care expenses. Contributions to retirement accounts, union dues, and payments to other persons (such as spousal support to an ex-wife in a prior case) can also factor into the calculation.
So, in Michigan, we look at the gross incomes (before taxes) of the parents, and make appropriate adjustments to arrive at a theoretical net income (take home pay).
Let’s look at one scenario to get a general idea of how this might work:
Father is single and earns $80,000 per year before taxes, including over time. He has every other weekend and some holidays, for a total of 80 overnights per year. The children are 14 and 16, so he has no day care expenses. He provides them with health insurance, but his employer pays it so there is no credit for that.
Mother is single and earns $40,000 annually before taxes, and she has sole physical custody, so the children live with her full time.
Let’s assume these two people are divorced, and that we are calculating child support payments for the father. Neither parent has any other children. Neither parent contributes to a retirement account or has any other expenses that we can consider, such as paying spousal support to another person. Let’s also assume each parent claims one child as a dependent on their tax returns, and the mother claims head of household.
Given this scenario, the father will pay to the mother a monthly total of $1,282 per month for two children. Child support continues until age 18 or a maximum of 19 ½ years age if the child is still attending high school. Child support is modifiable if there is a change of circumstances, however, any modification will typically only go back to the date a motion is filed.
As you can see, calculating child support is not a simple matter and involves proper legal analysis of many factors. Don’t assume your child’s mother, her attorney, or even the Friend of the Court will properly apply the law in these issues. Get your own lawyer and get it right.
About ADAM (American Divorce Association for Men)
The American Divorce Association for Men (ADAM) is a group of highly qualified attorneys who advocate for men’s rights in divorce, child custody and parenting time, paternity, support, property settlement, post judgment modifications, and other family law matters. Since 1988, ADAM has been aggressive, diligent, and uncompromising when representing their clients. A team of compassionate and skilled family law attorneys, ADAM is dedicated to being Michigan’s leading divorce attorneys for men.