When you share a minor child with an ex, whether you are separated, divorced, or ending a relationship, you should know that Michigan law uses an income shares model to calculate child support. What this means is that the court will consider both parents’ incomes when determining a total child support obligation, and it will then make a determination about each parent’s portion of that child support obligation based on factors like individual net income and total number of overnights with the child. Sometimes parents assume that spending money on a child can be considered child support, and that items purchased for a child might count towards the child support obligation. It is critical to understand that the overall child support obligation will never be reduced for a parent because she or he purchased an item for the child, but child support in general can be used to pay for extracurricular activities and items that the child needs.
Child Support Obligation Calculation Does Not Include Items Purchased for the Child
When Michigan courts calculate a total child support obligation and determine each parent’s portion of that obligation under Michigan law, items purchased for the child are not specifically taken into account. In other words, the court does not consider what kinds of items a child might need in calculating a support obligation. Rather, the court considers each parent’s net income, parental time, and health care and child care obligations. The court will only deviate from the set formula when “applying the formula would lead to an unjust or inappropriate result.”
Purchases for the Child Cannot Reduce a Parent’s Child Support Obligation
Items purchased for a child cannot reduce a parent’s child support obligation when the court is determining the child support obligation. However, many items that the child requires or needs can come from child support funds.
Child Support Funds Can be Used to Pay for Certain Items the Child Needs
While purchases made for the child cannot be used to reduce a parent’s overall child support obligation, child support funds can be used to pay for certain items a child requires for school and for extracurricular activities, as well as items the child needs to thrive, including costs of shelter, clothing, food, and related necessities. To be clear, a parent cannot consider a purchase of a major new home appliance like a washer or dryer, or an electronic item like a large-screen television, to come out of the child support obligation. However, items that the child needs or requires for certain activities are covered by child support.
Contact a Michigan Child Support Attorney
If you have any questions or concerns about how child support works in Michigan or what it can be used to pay for, it is important to seek advice from an experienced Michigan child support lawyer. An advocate at our firm can answer any questions you might have today. Our family law team has years of experience serving clients in Michigan. Contact the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins to learn more about how we can assist you.