Divorce Court 101: What Any Family Should Know About Child Support and Child Custody in Michigan

Divorce Court 101: What Any Family Should Know About Child Support and Child Custody in Michigan

Divorce is the legal dissolution of your marriage, and it comes with a whole variety of emotions attached to it; heartbreak, confusion, anger, and devastation. Navigating the legal and judicial system during a divorce can only add to these emotions, so here at Lashier Law, we wanted to create an easy guide on what every couple should know when it comes to family law in the state of Michigan.

Continue reading to learn more information that will help you in this challenging and turbulent time in your life.

Child Custody in Michigan

Michigan legal child custody is the legal term that describes which parent makes the major decisions in a child’s life such as medical care, education, and religious affiliation. The majority of parents in Michigan share joint legal custody meaning that parents make that decision together.

Physical child custody generally is awarded to the parent who has the child more than 50% of the time. The parent with physical custody doesn’t necessarily have any more decision making authority but rather is just the parent with more overnights on the calendar.

Determining Child Custody in Michigan

If the two parents are not able to agree on legal and physical custody, the Court, when it comes to determining child custody in Michigan, will use 12 factors to figure out the best arrangement. While all the factors are important, they aren’t always weighed equally, as the judge will make their decision based off of the best interests of the child.

The factors are:

  1. The existing emotional ties between the parents and the child.

    • What parent is the child bonded with the most? How much time does the child spend with each parent a day?

  2. The parent’s capacity to offer love, affection, and provide an education.

    • What parent handles school issues? What parent stays home when the child is sick? Who normally disciplines the child?

  3. The parent’s capacity to provide food, shelter, and clothing.

    • Who has flexibility in their work hours and who can provide health insurance for the child?

  4. The length of time the child has lived in a stable environment.

  5. The permanence of the custodial homes of each parent.

  6. The moral fitness of each parent.

    • Has there been any record of abuse in the family?

  7. The mental and physical health of each of the parent.

  8. The child’s school record.

    • Will each parent stay in the child’s school district?

  9. The preference of the child, if the judge considers the child old enough to make a decision.

  10. The willingness of each parent to encourage a close relationship between them and their child.

  11. If there has been any domestic violence in the home.

  12. Any other factor the judge finds relevant to the case.

    • This can be related to the child’s special needs, the child custody arrangements of their siblings, or how far away the parents live from each other


Michigan Child Support

Child support is a court-ordered payment from one parent to the other. It is meant to help the primary custodial parent with the costs of raising the child. According to the state of Michigan, the child is entitled to financial support from both parents, so child support is a legal way to ensure their needs are met.

Child support includes a base amount, plus extra for health care and additional childcare costs until the child is 18 years old. In some cases, the parents will have to pay child support up until the age of 19 and a half if the child still attends high school and/or lives with the parent who receives the child support.  

The Michigan Child Support Formula is the legal method of determining which parent pays child support and the amount they pay. It takes into consideration the following details:

  • Each parent’s income.

  • The number of overnights per year the child spends with the parent.

  • If the parents are supporting any other children.

  • Health care costs.

  • Other miscellaneous childcare costs.

The judge is supposed to adhere to this formula, but if the parents have come up with a child support agreement outside of court, that will be taken into consideration. Your child support order is subject to review every three years or if there is a change in circumstances.

Working through child support and child custody in Michigan doesn’t have to be complicated or complex.  Lashier Law will help to navigate the sometimes complex road of family law, child custody, and child support, with the goals of your family in mind. Please contact our Utica law office today for more information.