Q: I am in the middle of trying to negotiate a divorce settlement. I have been told that we must follow the Michigan support formula, but my wife and I agree that, under the circumstances, it is not necessary for me to pay as much support as the formula provides. We both make a very good living, and I have expended substantial funds for the children's travel athletics and other extracurricular activities. Can we deviate from the child support formula?

A: Unless either of you is receiving public assistance such as food stamps or Medicaid, it is permissible to deviate from the child support formula for a number of reasons. The fact that you are paying for extracurricular activities that may actually cost you more than the amount of support is probably reason enough to deviate from the guidelines if you both agree to do so. The Michigan child support formula provides several grounds for deviation. The court simply has to be sure that the support provisions are adequate to meet the needs of the children. If you both have adequate income to support the children when they are in your care and custody, that is generally all the court needs to be convinced of in order to deviate from the support guidelines. There are several other grounds for deviation from the support formula. For example, deviation is permissible where a party receives property of substantial value in lieu of support, or where the apportionment of debt between the parties makes payment of support in accordance with the guidelines unjust.

If you are thinking of entering into a settlement that calls for a deviation from the child support formula, ask your attorney if your situation meets one of the grounds permitted by the support formula.

For more information about Michigan child support, click here.