How is child support determined when income is variable?

divorce attorney Jill DuffyQuestion:

My ex-wife has never been satisfied with the amount of child support she receives. My payments have already been increased and now she wants them to be even higher.

Since I am self-employed, my income tends to fluctuate. I could afford the higher child support order when times were good, but with business being slow I cannot afford to make these increased payments.

How can I get the child support amount to reflect my variable income?


Child Support, in Michigan, is determined by applying the Michigan Child Support Formula and Guidelines to the unique facts and circumstances of each case. The formula uses each party’s income, the number of overnight visits each parent has with the child, and expenses, such and child care and health insurance paid by each parent, to make a recommendation of the amount of support needed for the children.

The parties to a child support order are entitled to a Friend of the Court review of the order every 36 months. However, the Friend of the Court may review the orders more frequently if a parent requests a review and offers evidence that at least one parent’s financial circumstances have changed since the last order was entered.

If the Friend of the Court reviews the child support and determines that it should be modified, the Friend of the Court must file a motion asking the judge to modify the support amount. Frequently, the Friend of the Court will ask you to sign off on the new order. DO NOT do this. Ask for a hearing in front the judge to modify the support.

The Michigan Child Support Guidelines recommendation for child support is not a number that is set in stone. You can ask the judge to deviate, or depart, from the recommendation.

In order to deviate from the child support recommendation, the judge has to determine that the support recommendation is unjust or inappropriate and that the deviation is in the best interests of the children involved. The court can look at any factor it deems relevant to make this determination.

Although I practice law in Michigan, I cannot give you legal advice without thoroughly reviewing your case. Do not rely on this information as establishing an attorney-client relationship. Contact an attorney immediately for assistance. Cordell & Cordell does represent clients in Michigan.


Jill A. Duffy is an Associate Attorney in the Troy, Mich., office of Cordell & Cordell. She is licensed to practice in the state of Michigan. Ms. Duffy received her BA in Psychology and Spanish and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Oakland University. She received her Juris Doctor from Michigan State University College of Law and graduated Magna Cum Laude.

End of Content Icon

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *