Providing financial support for a child is a statutory obligation each parent assumes when a child is born and typically continues until the child reaches the age of 18. This obligation still exists when a couple gets divorced or legally separates and the entry of a Uniform Child Support Order is the legal mechanism used to enforce this responsibility. In order to ensure that both parents are supporting their children and not just the parent with primary custody, courts will issue child support orders requiring the parent with the least amount of physical custody to pay the other parent a court-determined amount every month. An overview of what a court looks at when it sets the child support amount appears below:
The Expenses Covered by Child Support
Generally, child support is intended to cover expenses related to the basic necessities of raising a child, such as adequate food, shelter, and clothing. However, there are additional expenses a court can take into consideration when determining child support. More specifically, a court can include:
- Medical, dental, and other health care;
- Child care;
- Costs related to pregnancy or childbirth; and
- Genetic testing.
Michigan law also delineates between ordinary and extraordinary medical expenses. Ordinary medical and health care expenses include annual costs for uninsured items such as office visits and prescription co-pays up to $357 per year. Uninsured costs above that amount in any calendar year are viewed as extraordinary and court typically orders both parents to pay a percentage of these costs based on their respective incomes.
Factors Used to Calculate the Support Amount
Michigan requires judges to use the Michigan Child Support Formula, created by the legislature, to determine what the appropriate child support amount should be for a parent. Courts can deviate from this formula if using it would create an “unjust or inappropriate result.” These deviations are very fact-specific and are on a “case-by-case” basis.
Courts use a number of factors to calculate a parent’s child support amount. These factors include:
- The net income of both parents after allowable deductions and adjustments;
- The division of parenting time;
- The number of children each party has;
- Health insurance premiums; and
- The actual cost of child care.
In addition to this information, courts can also consider other factors like children in the custody of a third party and overdue child support.
It should be noted that if a parent is voluntarily under- or unemployed, courts will impute the parent’s potential income for purposes of the child support calculation to ensure the parent is paying the appropriate amount. Also, when it comes to which parent should provide health insurance, the court must examine whether obtaining the insurance is reasonable. The cost cannot exceed five percent (5%) of the payor’s gross income. Reasonableness is based on considerations like accessibility, cost, and the likelihood of maintaining the coverage.
Speak with a Michigan Child Support Attorney
Receiving regular child support is crucial to the financial stability of the parent with the majority of the parenting time, so seeking to establish, enforce, or modify an existing child support order is an important process that should be undertaken with the guidance of an experienced child support attorney. The law firm of Iafrate & Salassa, P.C., in Clinton Township, has decades of experience representing family law clients. Contact them today to schedule a free consultation.