How Does Child Support Work in a Shared Custody Arrangement in Michigan?

By Heather Frances J.D.

The Michigan divorce court will divide child custody between you and your spouse and order a child support arrangement based in part on the child custody schedule. If you and your spouse can agree on a custody split, the court can approve your agreement. Child support is also based on your income, so when your income changes dramatically or your custody schedule changes, your support amount may need adjustment.

Shared Custody

Generally, shared -- or joint -- custody means parents share parenting time on a set schedule, though time does not have to be exactly equal. Parents can also have just joint legal custody, which is the right to make important decisions about the child such as education, medical care and religious teaching. Michigan’s child support guidelines consider the amount of time each parent has with the child, measured in the number of overnights the child spends with each parent.

Child Support

In Michigan, each parent has an obligation to support his child. Child support payments are for the general care and needs of your child, and they often include expenses for child care or medical care. The court determines how much child support you will pay based on your income as well as the number of overnights your child spends with you. For example, if you and your ex-spouse make the same income and share the same number of overnights, neither of you will pay child support.

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Net Income

Michigan uses your net income in its child support calculations. Net income is the amount left after you subtract taxes. Net income includes wages, retirement plans, business profits and many other types of income. Michigan law calculates your base support level using both parents’ net income, less certain deductions like an allowance for support for your other children. Then, the number of overnights your child spends with you determines what percentage of your base support level you will pay, plus adjustments for medical insurance and child care.


Child support levels are subject to review every three years or when there has been a substantial change in circumstances. Substantial changes in circumstances can include changes in income, additional children or changes in the custody arrangement. If you’ve had a substantial change in your circumstances, you can file a motion to modify child support with the appropriate court, usually the court that issued your last child support order. Alternatively, you can ask for modification help from your local Friend of the Court, the office that advises the court on family law matters.

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Does the Number of Children Affect Child Support?


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Wyoming Child Support Laws

When spouses divorce in Wyoming, they remain responsible for providing financial support for their children. To clarify each parent’s responsibilities, Wyoming courts enter child support orders as part of the terms of a divorce decree. Parents must comply with these orders or face significant penalties for nonpayment. However, if circumstances change, courts can modify the support order.

Why Does a Parent That Doesn't Have Custody Have to Pay Child Support?

Just as you support your children financially while you're married, you must continue to do so when you divorce. The major difference is that if you divorce, the government keeps a watchful eye on whether you're paying – at least if you're the non-custodial parent. Child support is designed to ensure that your children enjoy the same standard of living as they would have enjoyed if you and your spouse didn't break up.

Receiving a BAH After Getting Divorced

Divorcing when you are a member of the military has its own unique set of concerns, many of them associated with the military pay system. Your right to receive a Basic Allowance for Housing, or BAH, can be affected by divorce, but in most cases, you'll continue to receive it. It may be adjusted to reflect your new marital status, depending on whether you have children. The computations are complex, so if you have questions, consult with an attorney familiar with both family and military law.

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