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Stop Wasting Time on Child Support Issues

 

In Michigan, child support it domestic relation actions are governed by MCL 552.605. This section provides:

(1) If a court orders the payment of child support under
this or another act of the state, this section applies to that order.

(2) Except as otherwise provided in this section, the
court shall order child support in an amount determined by application of the child support formula developed by the state friend of the court bureau as required in section 19 of the friend of the court act, MCL 552.519. The court may enter an order that deviates from the formula if the court determines from the facts of the case that application of the child support formula would be unjust or inappropriate and sets forth in writing or on the record all of the following:

(A) The child support amount determined by application
of the child support formula.

(B) How the child support order deviates from the child
support formula.

© The value of property or other support awarded
instead of the payment of child support, if applicable.

(D) the reasons why application of the child support
formula would be unjust or inappropriate in the case.

(3) Subsection (2) does not prohibit the court from
entering a child support order that is agreed to by the parties and that deviates from the child support formula, if the requirements of subsection (2) are met.

The Michigan child support formula is based upon the income and abilities of the parents as well as the needs of the child. Factors considered by the Michigan child support formula include the income of the parents, the number of minor children that are being supported, and the parenting time schedule, specifically the number of overnights per year the child spends with each parent. A review of case law which defines deviation from the Michigan child support formula is well beyond the scope of this article. Suffice it to say that deviation from the Michigan child support formula is a rare exception as the formula considers most factors that would affect child support.

When negotiating child support issues, one must focus on these limited factors considered by the Michigan child support formula. The number of parenting time overnights are typically dictated by the judgment or current court order. If the current court order does not define specifically the number of overnights exercised during parenting time, a litigant should be prepared to show proofs on this issue.

The most frequently disputed issue regarding child support is the income of the parties. In mainstream employment, this is usually not an issue. Income typically can be proven by tax returns, a recent pay stub showing year to date income, 1099 and W-2 forms. Closely related is the issue of discretionary or speculative bonuses. In determining these issues the litigant should focus on a snapshot in time of the current income of the parties. Absent evidence to the contrary, it should be assumed that the employee will receive a bonus similar to the bonus received in the prior year.

When all the information has been gathered to the best of the ability of the parties, the parties should apply these figures to the Michigan child support formula. When there is dispute regarding these figures, before spending copious amounts of time debating the accuracy of the figures, the parties should simply run the Michigan child support formula pursuant to each separate parties calculations and determine if it is worth fighting over the difference in support recommendations. Parties are often shocked to learn that significant disparity in input figures does not always translate into significant differences in support recommendations. By way of example, the Michigan child support formula will provide a significant change in support based upon a significant change in the payer’s income. A payee’s fluctuation in income will affect the support recommendation but only to a very small degree.

In divorce litigation most parties are dealing with limited resources. These resources must not be squandered. Long and expensive disputes regarding calculation of child support are almost never profitable. When litigating child support issues stop wasting time and resources. It is best to start at the end rather than the beginning. Apply your information to the Michigan child support formula and calculate guideline child support. Before arguing over the details, make sure your argument will be profitable.

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