Finally, an online way to figure child support

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By Marie E. Matyjaszek

After years of parents asking if there is an online program they can use to calculate their child support obligation correctly, the answer is finally yes! What’s even better is the fact this online, free calculator will provide you with the same State of Michigan guidelines that you would receive from the Friend of the Court (FOC). Of course, I have to state a disclaimer that arriving at identical figures assumes both you and the FOC used the same numbers for every entry.

To access this new tool, simply visit the website at  www.michigan.gov/michildsupport. Next, click on “Additional Services,” and then, “Calculate Child Support (MiChild Support Calculator).” You don’t need to create an account or log in to use the program (thankfully, since I already have 562 passwords for every online account I have ever opened). This link will direct you to the explanation page, and there is a good rundown of the information you will need to input into the program.

Since the program will close if you are inactive for a certain amount of time, I would suggest collecting all of this data (or at least have an idea of the figures you are going to use if you are estimating income, etc.) before you sit down and begin. Some of the information required is: each party’s income, number of overnights per year with the minor children, tax status, number of exemptions, cost of health insurance premiums and daycare, and children’s names and birth dates. The site includes a link to the Michigan Child Support Formula Manual as well, which explains the formula in detail.

I actually did a practice run on the program to see what it was like, and found it fairly straightforward. For each entry area, the parent to whom the entry applies is listed up top, and there are easy to see tabs to add income, child care expenses, etc. If you are math challenged (like most attorneys), you don’t even have to calculate every little penny – the program allows you the option to input your income a variety of ways – for example, your hourly wage, daily rate or yearly salary – and the computer will do the calculation for the monthly gross income.

After providing the program with all of my imaginary data, I was able to receive honest-to-goodness accurate “imaginary” results! And, I could print them! Make sure that you print out your calculation, because the program does not have a save feature, so you can’t start and come back later either. There is a nice breakdown summarizing the data submitted (helpful to double check after the calculations are completed), and a chart for what support would be for varying amounts of children. It even tells you the child care reimbursement end date (child care ends August 31 following the child’s 12th birthday). Again, if you don’t like math, it is nice to have this all done for you. It also provides the uninsured medical expense cost percentage for each parent.

Overall, I am impressed with the program and its ease of use. It will allow parents without an attorney to get an idea of the outcome of a child support review, preventing surprise if it doesn’t go the way they wanted. It can guide parents in determining whether or not it’s even worth it to look into modifying support. Parents can also calculate their own child support for a consent order before presenting the documents to the court, saving everyone time and frustration. I’m extremely hopeful that this new tool will help not only the parents, but the court system as well.

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Marie Matyjaszek is a family law attorney whose blog site is: http://legalbling.blogspot.com. She can be reached by e-mailing her at matyjasz@hotmail.com.

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