Modifying Existing Child Support Orders
Although not easy to do, it is possible to modify child support orders issued by a Michigan court in some circumstances. This may be desirable in certain situations where the payor spouse’s income increases or decreases dramatically. Modifications to child support are not necessarily automatic and may be denied in certain situations. It is important for payor spouses (and payee spouses) to know when a court is likely to grant a modification and when it is not.
When You Can Ask for a Review of Child Support
There are two ways in which a person can bring the issue of child support modification back before the court (assuming, of course, that the child is still a minor and that one parent continues to be obligated to pay child support to the other parent). If the parent with whom the child lives is receiving public assistance, the “Friend of the Court” will automatically review the child support orders every 36 months and determine if modification is necessary. Otherwise, one party can file a motion to modify child support orders at any time that party believes there has been a “change in circumstances” or “proper cause” exists for the change. (even before 36 months have elapsed since the previous child support orders).
When Will Child Support be Modified?
Not every substantial “change in circumstance” will result in a modification of orders. Only those changes that will result in a substantial change in the child support amount (either an increase or a decrease) will generally result in orders changing the child support amount. Here’s how:
- The party seeking modification files his or her motion for modifying child support (or the Friend of the Court reviews the file);
- This person then has the burden of showing that it is more likely than not that there has been a substantial change in circumstances;
- The parties are both asked to provide income verification documents to assist in the review;
- If upon consideration of the new information the child support amount will not change by a significant amount, more than $50, modification of the order may be denied.
Examples of Material Changes in Circumstances
Although there is no set list of what constitutes a material change in circumstances, in general the change must be unanticipated at the time the previous order was entered and likely to be permanent or remain for a significant period of time. Examples would include:
- A pay raise or promotion;
- A decrease in pay, demotion, or termination of employment; or
- A significant medical event/hospitalization.
Note that a payor spouse who purposefully causes a material change in circumstance so as to lower his or her obligation (i.e., by purposefully and without cause quitting work) will likely not be able to have his or her child support obligation modified.
Examples of Proper Cause
Changing support based on “proper cause” relies on events such as changes to the child support formula, laws of the state, or other legal events that have an effect on the calculation of child support. Parents seeking to change child support for “proper cause shown” generally rely on changes to the law to meet their burden of proof and prove that the child support order should be changed.
Contact Van Den Heuvel Law Office if you are looking to modify your child support orders. We can review your situation and advise you whether pursuing a modification would be in your best interest. If so, we can help you prepare your motion and prove it in court. Contact us today for assistance by calling (616) 698-0000 or by contacting our firm online.