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Child Support

At Thacker Sleight, we are family law lawyers, negotiators, litigators, and problem solvers. We have a reputation of being fearless, meticulous, and thorough in our approach of life’s unexpected challenges. We never stop, it’s how we work, and why we get results.

Grand Rapids Child Support Attorneys

Helping CLients in St. Joseph, Kent County, Ottawa County, Montcalm County, and Beyond

One of the most pressing questions divorcing parents ask us is what will happen to their children. Our attorneys understand how overwhelming these situations can be, and we will provide sound guidance on your legal options and outcomes for child support, whether you expect to be the paying parent or the receiving parent. 

Thacker Sleight has handled hundreds of cases throughout our 50+ years of practice and has successfully directed different situations to meet each parent’s unique goals. We will prioritize you and your child’s best interests as we build your child support case. The courts in Michigan use a specific formula to calculate the amount of child support that a parent will be required to pay. Our attorneys can help you determine what this amount will be, navigate the Friend of the Court that oversees this process, and address any other questions or concerns you have regarding the payment and collection of child support.

Are you curious about how much child support you will pay or receive? Let our attorneys at Thacker Sleight advocate for your child support rights. Contact us today.

Michigan’s Child Support Formula

Michigan law establishes that both parents have a duty to support their children until they reach the age of 18 (the age of 19 if the child is still in high school or if the parents mutually agree to extend the time period). Typically, the noncustodial parent (the parent who has the child for less than half of the time) makes payments to the custodial parent (the primary residential parent), because it is presumed that the custodial parent spends the required amount directly on the child.

The amount of child support due will depend on both parents' incomes, their amount of parenting time, and the number of children to support.

Michigan’s Friend of the Court Bureau implements a child support formula, which calculates a parent’s share of support by examining:

  • Each parent’s net income: Net income is all your gross income minus some adjustments and approved deductions (such as for income taxes or alimony). Gross income includes your wages, salary, commissions, overtime pay, and bonuses, as well as any royalties, tips, dividends, military specialty pay, and regular gambling winnings.
  • A parent’s benefits (if they are unemployed): For the purposes of child support, a parent who is unemployed may have “income” calculated in the form of workers' compensation, unemployment benefits, or disability benefits. In some cases, the court may even impute (assign) a potential income amount to you if it appears that you are voluntarily working less or not at all to skirt the child support obligation.
  • Each parent’s parenting times: The court assumes that the more time a parent spends with their child, the higher that parent's costs spent directly on the child will be. As a result, the amount of child support ordered may fluctuate based on how much a parent might be presumed to be spending while they are with their child.

Michigan’s child support formula offers a guide to estimate the child support amount, but the final decision will be made by the court and based on the child’s best interests. If you believe the amount calculated from the guidelines is not the most appropriate, you can request the judge to make an adjustment to the amount. 

When deciding on an adjustment, the judge will consider a variety of factors relevant to the child’s best interests, including:

  • If a parent is incarcerated with minimal or no income or assets
  • The child's needs
  • Any educational expenses
  • Whether the formula did not measure the full extent of a parent's income
  • The property division award
  • Whether a parent is in bankruptcy
  • Situations where a parent may earn bonuses at irregular intervals
  • Daycare and other costs not reflected accurately by parenting time
  • The spousal support award

Modifying Child Support

Of course, circumstances change as your child grows up. They may have new needs that substantiate more or less child support. Both parents have the right to file a Motion to Modify with a judge to change an existing child support order. If less than 36 months have elapsed since the current order was last issued, a judge may modify it upon finding a “substantial change” in a parent's circumstances. An example of a substantial change might be if a parent becomes injured to the extent that they cannot work.

If more than 36 months have passed since the current order was issued, the Friend of the Court can review your child support order to ensure payments meet the child's current needs. If they do not meet your child’s needs, the Friend of the Court can file a motion with the court to modify your order.

Child support matters can be complex to handle alone, especially when you are already dealing with a slew of other divorce issues at the same time. Our attorneys at Thacker Sleight take an assertive approach to litigation and will always keep your best interests in mind during your child support case. Whether you have questions about calculating child support as the paying parent or the receiving parent, Thacker Sleight is here to help you.

Schedule an initial consultation with Thacker Sleight to get started on your child support case today.

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