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Legal Information: Michigan

Michigan Child Support

Laws current as of
March 27, 2024

Basic information on child support in Michigan.

How long does child support last?

Usually, a parent must pay support until a child turns 18. However, a judge can order a parent to continue paying support until the child is 19 and a half years old if the child:

  • attends high school full-time; 
  • has a reasonable expectation of graduating; and
  • lives full-time with the parent who gets child support or lives at an institution.1

1 MI ST §§ 552.605b(1); 552.605b(2)

How is the amount of child support calculated?

The judge will use the Michigan Child Support Formula, also known as “the formula,” to figure out how much child support to order.1 The formula takes into account the following factors:

  • both parents’ income;
  • how many nights per year the child stays with each parent;
  • how many children the parents support;
  • health care costs;
  • child care costs; and 
  • other factors.2

The law assumes that the formula sets the right amount of child support unless there are facts in a specific case that show otherwise. To understand when the judge may order a different amount, read Can a child support order ever be different from what the Michigan Child Support Formula says?

1 MI ST § 552.605(2)
2 See the 2021 Michigan Child Support Formula Manual on the Michigan Courts website.

Can a child support order ever be different from what the Michigan Child Support Formula says?

The judge must use the Michigan Child Support Formula to set a child support amount unless s/he believes it is unfair or inappropriate for a specific case. If the judge orders a different amount, s/he must clearly explain why and how it differs (deviates) from the formula.1

Even if the parents agree on a different child support amount, they still must convince the judge that the amount set by the formula is unfair or inappropriate.2

The Michigan Child Support Formula Manual lists 20 possible reasons, called “deviation factors,” why a judge might deviate from the formula’s support amount. The judge considers these reasons on a case-by-case basis.3

The possible reasons are as follows:

  1. the child has special needs;
  2. the child has extraordinary educational expenses;
  3. the parent is a minor;
  4. the child’s household qualifies for public assistance and at least one parent can afford to pay additional support that will raise the child’s standard of living above the public assistance threshold;
  5. a parent has less income available for child support because of the extraordinary levels of debt that the parents racked up together;
  6. the judge awards property instead of support for the benefit of the child;
  7. a parent has or likely will have extraordinary medical expenses for either that parent or his/her dependent;
  8. a parent gets bonuses in varying amounts or at irregular times;
  9. someone other than the parent can provide reasonable and appropriate health care coverage;
  10. a parent provides nearly all the support for his/her stepchild, and the stepchild’s parents do not have income and cannot earn income;
  11. a child earns an extraordinary income;
  12. the judge orders one parent to pay taxes, mortgage payments, home insurance premiums, telephone or utility bills, etc., before making a final judgment or order;
  13. a parent has to pay significant amounts of restitution, fines, fees, or costs due to a conviction or incarceration; Note: The judge can only consider this factor if the crime had nothing to do with failing to support children or a crime against the child in this case or the child’s sibling, parent, or custodian;
  14. a parent makes payments to a bankruptcy plan or to discharge debts and this significantly impacts how much money that parent has available to pay support;
  15. one parent provides a substantial amount of a child’s day-time care and directly pays for more of the child’s costs than would be offset by the other parent’s overnight parental time;
  16. the child is in the custody of a nonparent who receives the child support payments, but the child spends a significant number of overnights with the parent paying support, and this causes a significant savings in the nonparent custodian’s expenses;
  17. there is a court order from before October 2004 that cannot be changed (“nonmodifiable”), which orders one parent to pay spousal support to the other parent;
  18. a parent’s share of net child care expenses is more than half of that parent’s base support obligation as calculated using the child support formula before applying the parental time offset;
  19. the support amount calculated using the child support formula comes out to $20 or less, which doesn’t make it worthwhile to pay the administrative costs to enforce and process the payments; or 
  20. any other factor that the judge believes is relevant to the child’s best interests.3

1 MI ST 552.605(2)
2 MI ST 552.605(3)
3 See section 1.04(E) of the 2021 Child Support Formula Manual

Where can I find additional information about child support in Michigan?

Michigan Child Support Services, called “MiChildSupport” for short, can sometimes help you get the child support you are owed. They have useful links and forms and answers to frequently asked child support questions. They also have a calculator app on their site. It can help you estimate how much child support may be ordered in your case using the Michigan Child Support Formula. Go to MiChildSupport Calculator to get directions and use the app.   

Michigan Legal Help also has some child support guides.

Current and past Child Support Formula Manuals are on the Michigan Courts website.

WomensLaw.org is unrelated to the above organizations and cannot vouch for the accuracy of their sites. These links are for your information only.