Child support payments in Michigan are determined by a very specific formula, called the Michigan Child Support Formula. At The Kronzek Firm PLC, we use a special software to calculate the formula, so that are able to help our clients.
Because the formula is mandatory, there is very little room for negotiation in determining child support payments. However, as with most formulas and software, the outcome is determined by the information that is input.
How is Child Support Determined?
Michigan has its own Child Support Formula for calculating child support payments. The formula is extremely complex and changes every year, based on the annual Federal Income Tax tables. Changes in federal tax law also cause the formula to change. Some of the factors the formula takes into account are:
- The gross and net income of each parent
- The amount of mandatory deductions from each parent’s paycheck
- Cost of the child’s medical insurance and daycare
- The number of minor children involved in your case
- The division of parenting time between parents
- Income tax filing status of each parent
- Alimony being paid or received
- Other children for whom child support is being paid
- A variety of other factors
To calculate an employed parent’s income, W-2 forms and pay stubs are commonly used. Often, copies of the parents’ income tax returns are needed. It is a bit more difficult to calculate the incomes of self-employed people, 1099 employees, and unemployed people.
Still, the formula does provide provisions and directions for income calculations for those who are not traditionally employed.
Although the formula does take into account many factors, one of the things not taken into account are most expenses. It doesn’t account for rent, mortgage, other bills, care payments, or retirement account contributions. The idea is that your children should come before all else.
The Michigan Child Support Formula (MCSF) is constantly changing. Because of this, you should be wary of websites that help you calculate the formula, since it is almost impossible to tell whether or not these sites have been fully and correctly updated. The state of Michigan does have an online calculator. Many, including experienced attorneys, find it difficult to use. For information on supplementary alimony and how this affects child support calculations, please read this.
The best way to get an accurate estimate of how much you might give or receive in child support payments is to speak with an experienced family law attorney. Your child support legal team should be using the most up-to-date version of the formula, complete with any additional supplements determined by the Michigan legislature. The supplements change periodically as well. Not having the most recent information can dramatically alter the accuracy of your child support estimate.
How are Child Support Payments Used?
Child support payments generally do not have to be accounted for by the parent receiving the payments. It is only in rare cases that parents will have to report how child support payments are being used. In general, child support payments are used for any or all of the child’s needs. This may include clothing, housing and utilities, uninsured medical expenses, food, extracurricular activities, transportation and entertainment.
How is Child Support Collected?
Child support payments are often simply deducted from a parent’s income. To deduct straight from payroll, an Order for Income Withholding (IWO) will be filed. The IWO will be issued either to the employer, the unemployment office, pension plans, and other sources of income.
Failing to pay child support will result in the same force and effect as other kinds of money judgments here in Michigan. A child support order may be enforced through a “show cause” hearing and by contempt of court actions in Michigan. A parent who fails to pay required child support risks having their assets seized and sold and possible jail time.
Payment Of Additional or Uninsured Medical Expenses
Payment of medical expenses for the children is often a question that our attorneys are asked. Here in Michigan, even though we call it medical expenses, it really refers to necessary medical, dental and optical expenses for the kids. After parents separate or divorce, figuring out which parent pays for the uninsured medical expenses is a common issue. Like most other things related to divorce and custody, there’s a law that explains that. That law is MCL 552.605. (Yes, you can Google it!) Michigan uses the Michigan Child Support Formula to address payment of the medical expenses for each child.
To begin with, parents should first submit the children’s medical bills to their insurance company. With most insurers, there will still be some money left to pay even after the insurance company pays the doctor. The reason is that most of us have co-pays or deductibles. We also have certain medical expenses that are not covered by our specific insurance plan. That money that is still left to pay after the insurance has already paid, is call the uninsured medical expense for the child So what we’re really determining is which parent will pay for the child’s uninsured medical expenses.
The state of Michigan has determined that the ordinary medical expense for each child, will be paid in full each year, by the parent that is receiving child support. This is called the Annual Ordinary Medical (AOM) amount, and it is included in most child support orders.
The 2021 formula increased AOM to $454 for one child, $908 for two, $1,362 for three, $1,816 for four, and $2,269 for five or more children.
This annual ordinary medical amount is added to the base child support and this amount must be paid if full by the parent that receives child support.
There were also two exceptions added so that the court can determine that no ordinary medical expense amount is appropriate, which means they can treat all qualifying medical expenses as additional medical expenses:
- an incapacitated payer’s base support obligation is set at zero (§4.02), or
- The recipient has an employer-paid benefit (e g., health reimbursement arrangement) that pays the recipient’s initial out-of-pocket expenses for the children.
After the ordinary medical expense amount has been paid each year, the parents then split remaining yearly medical costs proportionally. For instance, as stated the Annual Ordinary Medical Amount for one child is $403.00 per year. The paying parent (payor) makes $30,000.00 per year while the parent receiving payment (payee) makes $10,000.00 per year. Per the calculations, the payor would pay 2/3 of the medical expenses and the payee will pay 1/3 of the medical expenses after the $403.00 Annual Ordinary Medical Amount is met. The $403.00 Annual Ordinary Medical Amount is like a deductible or co-pays. It has to be fulfilled before any additional medical costs are split between the parents.
The Michigan Child Support Formula automatically calculates the percentage that each parent has to pay for the children’s uninsured medical expenses (after the ordinary medical expense is paid each year by the parent getting child support). You can find this percentage right in your Uniform Child Support Order. This form of payment can benefit either the payor or the payee. If the medial expenses never reach the $403.00 threshold, then the parent getting the child support can keep the rest as additional child support. However, if the medical amount exceeds the $403.00 threshold, that parents begin dividing the uninsured medical expenses based on the calculation in the child support order.
Pursuant to MCL 552.511a, there are remedies a child support payer can use if the recipient has not fulfilled his or her end by paying the annual ordinary medical expense. The parent can file a complaint with the Medical Reimbursement Specialist at the local Friend of the Court office asking for enforcement of unpaid medical expenses before any of the following occur:
- One year after the expense was incurred;
- Six months after insurer’s final payment or denial of coverage for the expense AND IF all measures necessary to submit a claim for the health care expenses to all insurers that might be obligated to pay the expense were completed within 2 months after the expense has been incurred;
- Six months after a parent (payor) defaults in paying for the health care expense as required under the Child Support Order.
Once the Friend of the Court receives a Complaint that meets these requirements, the office will send a copy of the Complaint to the defaulting parent.
If, within 21 days after receiving the complaint and notice, the defaulting parent does NOT file a written objection to the Complaint, then the Complaint becomes a child support arrearage / debt owed and is subject to any available arrearage collection methods. However, if the defaulting parent files a timely written response, with the statutory 21 days, the court will set a hearing before a judge or referee to resolve the complaint.
Because the child support formula is constantly changing, it is important that you find family law attorneys that stay up-to-date and understand recent changes to the formula. At The Kronzek Firm PLC, we use Michigan Child Support software that continually adjusts to reflects the latest changes.
It is a mistake to use an online calculator or to hire an attorney that doesn’t stay up-to-date or that doesn’t understand all the nuances and complexities of Michigan family law. If you trying to figure out child support, call us today to set up your FREE consultation!
Call us today at 1-517-886-1000, or email us!