Child Support (Divorce)

Child Support (Divorce)

How Child Support is Determined

Under supervision of the Supreme Court, the Friend of the Court Bureau has established a statewide child support formula. This formula must be utilized by Friend of the Court personnel in making a child support recommendation unless following the formula would be unfair in a case.

Judges and referees must indicate why they depart from the formula, if they do so. The child support formula takes into consideration the income of the non-custodial parent, it also looks at the custodial parent's income and may even impute income to an unemployed or underemployed parent under certain circumstances. The formula not only attempts to follow the current case laws governing child support, but it also takes into consideration the current reality of divorce and multiple marriages. 
The support formula provides that a working custodial parent may request a contribution toward  his/her child care expenses.  It also includes an apportionment of uninsured ordinary health care expenses of $289.00 per year per child.  Expenses in excess of $289.00 per year per child are considered extraordinary and are apportioned between the parties upon request. 
A copy of the child support formula may be obtained by accessing the Michigan Supreme Court's web page or by sending a check or money order payable to State of Michigan for $5.00 to:
Department of Management and Budget
Office Services Division
Materials Management
PO Box 30026
Lansing, MI, USA 48909

Termination of Support

Michigan statute provides for child support to continue to age 18 or upon graduation from high school but no later than age 19 1/2. If your order provides for support until graduation from high school, there are three criteria which must be met. The child's residence must be with the custodial parent, the child must be attending high school on a full-time basis with a reasonable anticipation of graduation, and the child must be under the age of 19 1/2.

The custodial parent must provide a letter from the school to the Friend of the Court if the child is still in high school after turning 18 years of age.  The letter must provide the expected date of graduation and state that the child is enrolled on a full-time basis.

Support may terminate before the child turns 18 if s/he dies, marries, or enters the military. 

Follow the written support order! 

You must comply with the terms of the judgment or order regarding payment of support. Do not fall into the trap of making private arrangements, as you will face the same judge who gave the original order if you fail to comply. The Friend of the Court enforces orders on a non-complaint basis but welcomes complaints regarding cases needing attention.
Under state law, all support obligations must be charged on a monthly basis.  The Michigan Child Support Enforcement System (MiCSES) automatically charges support and spousal support on the first day of each month, but the support is not considered delinquent unless it is not paid by the end of the month.

Charging & Federal Distribution Rules

Child support is calculated as a monthly charge and due the first day of each month.  Weekly orders are adjusted and charged accordingly.  Support is not considered delinquent until after the end of the month.  Once current support is satisfied, any remaining money is applied toward arrearages and then fees.

Distribution rules require that current support must be paid first. The payee may receive the full monthly amount due before the end of the month. The checks may be in differing amounts. Once the total amount for the current month has been paid, i.e., the $200.00, remaining money can be used toward arrearages or fees.

If the payer has multiple child support cases, payments are distributed to all cases with current support owing before any monies are applied to cases with arrears.  

A surcharge is added to your arrearage 

Effective July 1, 2005, the surcharge rate on outstanding arrears changed.  The current rate equals one-percent (1%) plus the average interest rate on 5-year U.S. Treasury Notes during the 6 months preceding July1, and January 1.

To avoid surcharge, a payer may pay at least 90% of the current support payments.

Michigan State Disbursement Unit - MiSDU

With rare exceptions, all payments must be processed through the Michigan State Disbursement Unit (MiSDU) in Lansing.  This ensures that all payments are recorded and disputes as to whether payments have been made can be quickly resolved.

Income withholding 

Most payments are made pursuant to an income withholding notice as a deduction from the payer's wages or salary.  All income withholding payments are sent to MiSDU for distribution.

If There is No Income Withholding

If payments are not being withheld from a payer's paycheck, payers must send payment to the Michigan State Disbursement Unit with a payment coupon.  Payment coupons are mailed to payers shortly after a support order is entered of modified.  Temporary payment coupons are available at the FOC Office, by mail or online. Every check or money order must clearly identify the payer's name, social security number, docket number, county identifier No. 63 for Oakland County, and the dollar amount.  Failure to properly identify the payment may cause the money to be applied to the wrong account or held to determine where they money should be applied.

All payments and coupons must be sent to:

Michigan SDU 
PO Box 30351
Lansing, MI  48909-7851

Child Support - A Primary Debt

Before paying any other debts or buying a child a gift, the payer is expected to honor his/her child support obligation.  The child support provision of the court order defines the payer's obligation.  However, a payer may do more for his/her child than the law requires provided s/he first complies with the support order.  For instance, giving $50.00 worth of clothing to the child is not a substitute for a $50.00 child support payment.  Purchasing clothes or other necessities is considered a gift and will not be credited towards a child support obligation.

Modification of child support

Payments must be made according to the child support order until it is modified by a new order signed by the judge.  There are three ways to change a support order:      

  1. If it has been 36 months since the support order was granted, modified, or reviewed, either party may make a written request for a FOC administrative review.  There is no cost assessed for making this request.  A domestic support specialist must complete the review within 180 days.  Either party may object to the recommendation and request a FOC referee support hearing.
  2. If it has been less than 36 months since the child support order was granted, modified, or reviewed, and there has been a substantial change of circumstances, either party may file a "Motion to Change Support Order."  If a party wishes to represent him/herself, the necessary form is available at the FOC Office, by mail, or online.
  3. If the parties submit a written agreement on a new child support amount, the FOC will prepare a consent order.  If the children are receiving public assistance, the support order must follow the Michigan child support formula unless good cause is shown.

Friend of the Court Handbook