On its face, calculating child support might seem to be a simple matter. Go to the Michigan Child Support Formula online, plug  in the actual incomes of each party, calculate the number of overnights, adjust for union dues, child care, health insurance, etc., and up comes the number. True enough, but you can create some long term problems if you get too greedy in exaggerating your spouse’s  income, understating your own, and fighting too hard to limit the number of parenting time overnights. If you fight and get everything you want to maximize the support to you and minimize the parenting time for him or her, you just might win in the short run and lose in the long term.

Here’s why.

Studies have shown three main reasons parents don’t live up to  child support obligations.

First, if they don’t get a fair amount of time with their kids, they lose their relationship with them and lose their incentive to support them.  Second, the more they feel the amount they have to pay is unfair, the more they question where the money is going. Is it for the kids or for Mom’s new boyfriend? Third, they want to get revenge for an unfair settlement by making the other side fight in court for every back payment.

If you mediate the settlement terms instead of fighting for every nickel, your spouse is much more likely to live up to his or her obligations. This increases your actual received income and prevents constant post judgment trips to court. Make it a win/ win solution, not a win/ lose one. Otherwise, you might find you, and more importantly, your kids are the real  losers.