Now Accepting New Clients!

FAMILY LAW 62: The court held that the trial court erred by imputing income to Defendant and increasing the amount of child support he pays to Plaintiff.

The parties have two children, and in 2012 an order was entered requiring Defendant to pay $460 in monthly child support to Plaintiff. In 2018 and early 2019, there was a flurry of friend of the court (FOC) investigations, referee hearings and recommendations, objections to recommendations, and trial court filings and hearings all with respect to setting the proper amount of child support. Ultimately, the trial court ordered Defendant to pay $500 per month in child support, which the court based in part on imputing income to Defendant, who worked as a contractor installing carpets. In its ruling from the bench, the trial court stated that it was “imputing a normative hourly wage for a carpet layer believing that Defendant at least has the ability to earn that amount either through his own business or as an employee” and that “it is fair and reasonable [to do so] in light of the historical context of the case.” The trial court never explicitly indicated the dollar amount that it was imputing to Defendant, but it appears that it may have been relying on the FOC’s earlier determination that a carpet installer could make $12.08 an hour, although the evidentiary basis for this figure is unclear.


Generally, child support orders, including orders modifying child support, are reviewed for an abuse of discretion. This Court also reviews for an abuse of discretion a trial court's discretionary rulings that are allowed by statute or the Michigan Child Support Formula (MCSF), which would encompass a decision to impute income. However, whether the trial court properly applied the MCSF presents a question of law that we review de novo. 


A  trial court must use the formula established by the Friend of the Court Bureau when determining child support, unless. . . the formula would be unjust or inappropriate based on the facts of the case.”  Under the Michigan Child Support Formula (MCSF), the objective in determining the income of a parent is to accurately establish the amount of money a parent has available for support.  The MCSF authorizes a court to exercise its discretion to impute income to a parent, which typically occurs when there is a voluntary reduction of income or a voluntary unexercised ability to earn income.  When a parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, or has an unexercised ability to earn, income includes the potential income that parent could earn, subject to that parent’s actual ability.  2017 MCSF 2.01(G)(2) provides: Use relevant factors both to determine whether the parent in question has an actual ability to earn and a reasonable likelihood of earning the potential income. “These factors generally ensure that adequate fact-finding supports the conclusion that the parent to whom income is imputed has an actual ability and likelihood of earning the imputed income.” Moreover, 2017 MCSF 2.01(G)(4) provides: Imputing an income to a parent to determine a support obligation by using any of the following violates case law and does not comply with this section. . . . . (a) Inferring based on generalized assumptions that parents should be earning an income based on a standardized calculation (such as minimum wage and full time employment, median income, etc.), rather than an individual's actual ability and likelihood. (b) Absent any information or indication concerning a parent’s ability, assuming that an individual has an unexercised ability to earn an income. (c) Failing to articulate information about how each factor in §2.01(G)(2) applies to a parent having the actual ability and a reasonable likelihood of earning the imputed potential income, or failing to state that a specific factor does not apply.


The trial court referred to the “historical context of the case” when it imputed income and modified child support. We, however, cannot ascertain what the court meant by the reference, and it did not connect the reference to the imputation factors. There was a wholesale failure to comply with the MCSF, and the trial court did not indicate the evidentiary basis for the “normative hourly wage.” Indeed, the court did not even expressly identify the dollar amount that constituted the purported “normative hourly wage.” Under these circumstances, we are compelled to reverse the court’s child support order and remand for compliance with the imputation provisions in the MCSF.


Aldrich Legal Services understands what a stressful time this is for you when you have child support issues.

Aldrich Legal Services represent parents throughout southeast Michigan with a wide range of family law related matters.

Contact Aldrich Legal Services

Speak to a Pro: (734) 404-3000

PROBATE 42: Dissolution of professional corporation.

This case involves the estate of a doctor whose professional corporation also had to be dissolved upon his death. The personal representative of the estate sold the company’s assets but did not pay off the company’s debts before transferring the proceeds to the estate and distributing them to the heirs.

REAL ESTATE 73: Quiet title action.

This case involves a dispute over real property located in Michigan. W and V who are D’s parents, acquired the property. In 1999, W and V conveyed the property to the Trust, to which W is the sole trustee, via a quit claim deed. At some point...

How Is Alimony Determined In A Michigan Divorce?

Originally posted on 06/22/2018. When filing for divorce in Michigan, you may seek alimony, spousal support, from their spouse whenever they require financial aid. A judge may order your spouse to pay certain alimony. However, it depends...

Is My Conviction Eligible for Expungement?

Originally posted on 10/11/2019. At one point or another, we have all made mistakes. For some people, those mistakes involved breaking the law. Convictions have a large impact on someone’s life. Beyond the sentencing ranging from...

PROBATE 45: The court held that the probate court did not err by granting summary disposition for Plaintiff, or by denying Defendant’s request for an extension of the discovery period, adjournment of mediation, and issuance of subpoenas and by dismi

This case arises out of competing petitions for probate. On November 19, 2018, Defendant initiated this case by filing a petition for probate, attaching Decedent’s death certificate and purported last will and testament, dated March 9, 2007,...

DIVORCE 57: Holding that the trial court’s factual findings were not supported by the record evidence, and thus could not stand, the court reversed, vacated the portion of the Amended Default JOD ordering defendant to pay $3,325 to plaintiff, and re

Plaintiff first testified that she and defendant purchased the marital home in 1995. At the time the first default judgment of divorce was entered in September 2017, plaintiff had the home appraised. The value of the home was determined to be...

FAMILY LAW 68: The court held that the satisfaction of the statute relating to the termination of parental rights does not necessarily provide clear and convincing evidence in a parenting time dispute that a child will be harmed by reintroduction to

In a separate case, defendant’s parents filed a petition to terminate plaintiff’s parental rights and adopt RM on the ground that plaintiff had been absent from RM’s life for over three years. One month before the petition was...

FAMILY LAW 66: The court affirmed the trial court’s retroactive child support modification as to the second credit to which plaintiff-mother admitted at the referee hearing, and reversed and remanded as to the trial court’s equitable abatement of th

The parties have two children in common, and both children are now adults. The parties were never married, but plaintiff was granted custody and defendant was ordered to pay child support. After the youngest child turned eighteen, defendant sought a...

FAMILY LAW 65: The court held that because the ECE was not altered by the change of school districts, the referee properly applied the preponderance of the evidence standard when reviewing the best interest and parenting time factors.

BASIC FACTS The parties divorced in 2018. Their judgment of divorce provided that plaintiff would have primary physical custody and that the parties would have joint legal custody of the two minor children. The judgment of divorce stated that the...

FAMILY LAW 64: The court reversed the trial court’s order granting joint physical and legal custody of the parties’ children to defendant-father, concluding that the trial court improperly conflated his motion to change custody with plaintiff-mother

The parties divorced in 2013. The judgment of divorce granted mother sole physical and legal custody and ordered that the child’s domicile would remain in Michigan. In 2015, the trial court granted mother’s motion to change domicile,...

5 Common Misdemeanors Affecting People in Michigan

Originally posted on 11/08/2019 There are many different levels of crime and the consequences once someone has been charged with them. One bracket of crimes is known as a misdemeanor. Let’s go over this level of crime and some common...

PROBATE 44: The court held that the probate court did not err by declaring a will executed by the decedent invalid on the basis that she lacked testamentary capacity to execute it and that it was the product of petitioner’s undue influence.

Defendant and Decedent met in August 2017. In approximately November 2017, Decedent began talking constantly about wanting Defendant to take her to see an attorney for the purpose of changing her will. On March 19, 2018, Defendant filed a petition...

Michigan Expungement Law Updates For 2021

There has been a new law regarding expungements for the state of Michigan.  Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation that expands the criteria for expungements related to traffic offenses, marijuana convictions, and minor...

Wills and Trusts

Originally posted on: 02/14/2014 Aldrich Legal Service provides legal advice and representation for residents in Plymouth, Ann Arbor, and Southeast Michigan. We also review recent legal cases to examine what took place and what we can...

REAL ESTATE 68: Holding that plaintiffs-buyers’ allegations of fraud in this case arising from the sale of a residence did not preclude the trial court from granting defendants’ motion for summary disposition based on a release, the court affirmed.

This cause of action arises from plaintiffs’ purchase of a residence from defendant, who had rights in the house under a land contract from co-defendant, the legal owner of the house. Before the house was for sale, in January 2018, an upstairs...

Don't let a bad decision, unfair contract, or a messy divorce get in the way of a promising future!
Contact the experienced team at Aldrich Legal Services today to schedule your free initial
and secure reliable and trustworthy representation today!
Get the Help You Need From a Team You Can Truly Count On: (734) 404-3000