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How to Start a Case
If you or your children currently receive public assistance (i.e. Medicaid, MiChild, Food Stamps, cash assistance, child care assistance), you should already have a child support case if you reported that the other parent is not living in your household. If you have not received a letter from the Office of Child Support within three months of your public assistance case opening and/or within three months of reporting that the other parent no longer resides with you and the children, please call 1-866-540-0008.
If you do not currently receive any form of assistance, you may also apply for child support services. You may apply online with MiChildSupport, or you may print, complete and mail the IV-D Child Support Services Application/Referral - DHS-1201 form.
Your case will be referred to the local prosecuting attorney office for a child support case to be filed. The prosecutor’s role is solely to establish child support and in no case will the prosecutor represent either party on the issues of custody or parenting time if those issues are in dispute.
To learn more about the process, you can read the MDHHS' parent handbook called Understanding Child Support
- Do-It-Yourself Divorce with Children at Michigan Legal Help:https://michiganlegalhelp.org/self-help-tools/family/i-need-divorce-and-i-have-children
- Common Questions about filing your own Divorce with Children case at Michigan Legal Help: https://michiganlegalhelp.org/self-help-tools/family/introduction-divorce-minor-children
- Do-It-Yourself Custody Case (Unmarried Parents) at Michigan Legal Help: https://michiganlegalhelp.org/self-help-tools/family/i-need-custody-order
- Common Questions about filing your own Custody Case at Michigan Legal Help: https://michiganlegalhelp.org/self-help-tools/family/common-questions-about-needing-custody-order
How to Calculate Child Support
If you have an attorney, they will prepare your child support order for you using commercial software. Parties representing themselves have to prepare their own calculation. The State of Michigan has created a free website to help self-represented parties do their own calculation.
After you use the free calculator, save and print off the results. You will have to copy your results to the court form called a “Uniform Child Support Order,” which you can download here: https://courts.michigan.gov/Administration/SCAO/Forms/courtforms/foc10.pdf
The Michigan Child Support Formula determines which parent will pay child support and the support amount, based on factors including each parent's income and the number of nights per year that the child spends with each parent (called "overnights").
The person who pays child support is the “payer.” The person who gets child support is the “payee.” If the payee or the child gets public assistance, a portion of the child support payments may go to the state instead of the payee.
The amount of child support is calculated using the Michigan Child Support Formula. It takes into account the following factors:
- The parents’ incomes
- The number of nights per year ("overnights") the child spends with each parent
- The number of children the parties have
- Which party is paying health insurance premiums
- Which party is paying child care costs
- The ratio of income between the parties (i.e. does one make a lot more than the other)
The court must order child support according to the formula unless the result would be unfair or inappropriate. If the parents reach an agreement about the child support amount that does not follow the formula because they agree the formula result would be unfair, the parties must jointly file a Deviation Addendum and file it with the Uniform Child Support Order. Download here: https://courts.michigan.gov/Administration/SCAO/Forms/courtforms/foc10d.pdf
If any the child and/or payee is on public assistance, the court will rarely if ever approve a deviation.
Please see Approvals for detailed instructions about how to prepare your Uniform Child Support Order.
Components of Child Support:
The UCSO requires the payer to pay a monthly amount for child support. The monthly amount includes base support, plus or minus the amount that either parent pays for health care insurance premiums, child care, and their share of what are called “annual ordinary medical expenses.” You must write in the number for each component
When you enter the cost of health insurance premiums for the party that pays them, the free calculator will give you a result that reflects those costs. For example, if the payer provides health care insurance for the children and pays a premium for that insurance, part of the premium cost may be subtracted from the base support amount. If the payee provides health care insurance for the children and pays a premium for that insurance, part of the premium cost may be added to the base support amount.
The monthly child support amount also includes amounts for child care (based on the actual costs) and for ordinary medical expenses (currently $403 per year for one child). Ordinary medical expenses are costs for uninsured medical expenses like co-pays and deductibles. Ordinary medical expenses do not include care provided by parents, like first aid supplies and over-the-counter medicines.
The UCSO also states how additional medical expenses should be paid. Additional medical expenses are uninsured costs that are above the amount allowed for ordinary medical expenses in a calendar year. These additional expenses are called uninsured health-care expenses in the UCSO. Usually each parent is ordered to pay a percentage of additional medical expenses based on income. The calculator results give you the percentage for each party based on the ratio of the parties’ incomes. If the parents’ incomes are similar it could be 50%/50% but if they earn very different incomes, the percentage could be as high as 10%/90%.
How to Change an Existing Order
The current order in your case remains in effect until the judge signs a new order with changes. When circumstances change for your family your custody order and/or child support order may need to change too. You are required to follow the current order unless and until it is changed. You may be held in contempt by the court if you stop following a court order that is still in effect.
Mediation: If both parties agree to a change to custody or parenting time arrangements, you may utilize FOC mediation for assistance in entering a new order that reflects your agreement. Download a Request for Mediation here.
Child Support Review: Either party may request an FOC child support review once every 3 years or, more often, if there has been a material change in circumstances. The FOC will investigate any changes that affect the child support calculation and prepare a new proposed child support order, which the court will approve if neither party objects. For more information see Support Modification FAQ. Download the forms to request a support review.
Motion: If there is no agreement between the parties, one party must file a motion to ask the court to change the details of custody, parenting time, and/or child support in your current order. You will have to appear in court to explain to the judge/referee what has changed and how you want to change your order. Before you file your motion with the clerk, call Family Division (269-969-6732) to obtain a hearing date. Write the hearing information in the Notice of Hearing section in your motion. Then serve the motion on the other parent. You must mail the motion to the other parent at least nine days before the hearing or give them the motion in person at least seven days before the hearing. You may download forms and instructions to file a motion here.