Deviation Under the Michigan Child Support Formula

Posted on 11/10/2017 by Robert Relph in Child Support
Deviation Under the Michigan Child Support Formula

The Michigan Child Support Formula is mandated by law. This means that courts must order child support in the amount determined by the Formula, unless rebutted by facts in a specific case. The results from the Formula and the numbers generated by the Formula can be altered by what is called “Deviation” from the Formula.

Deviating from the Formula

According to the Michigan Child Support Formula Manual when applying the Formula would lead to an unjust or inappropriate result, the Court may exercise its discretion, and, on a case by case basis, deviate from the Formula and determine a more appropriate support amount. Deviations cannot be based solely on disagreement with the policies found in the Formula.

Situations for Allowing a Deviation to Occur

Michigan law permits the Court to enter orders that deviate from the Formula based on the agreement of the parties, so long as the reasons for the deviation are made clear and are in writing. In exercising its discretion to deviate, the Court may consider any factor that it determines relevant. Strict application of the Formula may produce an unjust or inappropriate result in a case when any of the following situations occur, according to the Michigan Child Support Manual:

  • The child has special needs.
  • The child has extraordinary educational expenses.
  • A parent is a minor.
  • The child’s residence income is below the threshold to qualify for public assistance, and at least one parent has sufficient income to pay additional support that will raise the child’s standard of living above the public assistance threshold.
  • A parent has a reduction in the income available to support a child due to extraordinary levels of jointly accumulated debt.
  • The court awards property in lieu of support for the benefit of the child.
  • A parent is incarcerated with minimal or no income or assets.
  • A parent has incurred, or is likely to incur, extraordinary medical expenses for either that parent or a dependent.
  • A parent receives bonus income in varying amounts or at irregular intervals.
  • Someone other than the parent can supply reasonable and appropriate health care coverage.
  • A parent provides substantially all the support for a stepchild, and the stepchild’s parents earn no income and are unable to earn income.
  • A child earns an extraordinary income.
  • The court orders a parent to pay taxes, mortgage installments, home insurance premiums, telephone or utility bills, etc., before entry of a final judgment or order.
  • A parent must pay significant amounts of restitution, fines, fees, or costs associated with that parent’s conviction or incarceration for a crime other than those related to failing to support children, or a crime against a child in the current case or that child’s sibling, other parent, or custodian.
  • A parent makes payments to a bankruptcy plan or has debt discharged, when either significantly impacts the monies that parent has available to pay support.
  • A parent provides a substantial amount of a child’s day-time care and directly contributes toward a significantly greater share of the child’s costs than those reflected by the overnights used to calculate the offset for parental time.
  • A child in the custody of a nonparent-recipient spends a significant number of overnights with the payer that causes a significant savings in the nonparent-custodian’s expenses.
  • The court ordered nonmodifiable spousal support paid between the parents before October 2004.
  • When a parent’s share of net child care expenses exceeds 50 percent of that parent’s base support obligation calculated under §3.02 before applying the parental time offset.
  • When the amount calculated does not exceed $15.00, and the administrative costs to enforce the process payments outweighs the benefit of the minimal amounts.
  • Any other factor the court deems relevant to the best interests of a child.

Presenting a Deviation

Deviation is a difficult issue to present in court, requiring an experienced attorney.