Child support and custody arrangements made during a divorce are usually appropriate for the time and circumstances. However, life can be unpredictable, and what once worked might no longer be the best arrangement. Michigan family law allows for changes to be made to both child support and custody orders when necessary.
The need for changes to child or spousal support usually arises from a substantial change for the paying parent. This is referred to as material change in circumstances and, depending on the change, can lead to either a decrease or increase in payments. Material change in circumstances can include any of the following:
- An involuntary job loss
- Considerable medical expenses
- A pay decrease or reduced hours
- New or increased child-related expenses
- Other changes that impact a person's ability to pay, or the needs of the benefiting child or spouse
Family law courts will consider the individual's claimed change in circumstances when deciding whether a modification to the original order is necessary. However, modifications to payment are not retroactive to when circumstances changed, and are instead only started when the request for a modification is granted (retroactive to the date of filing). It is important to act quickly after a significant life change to prevent payments from becoming an unnecessary financial burden.
Regardless if divorced couples have a private agreement or court order for child or spousal support, they must still seek a modification through the family law court system. Any agreement made outside of an official modification is not binding, and failing to pay the original amount can lead to contempt of court. Most people in Michigan find that guidance through the modification process can make the process as stress-free as possible.