Can Child Support Be Changed After the Divorce Is Final?
Child support is one of the issues determined in a divorce settlement. A child support payment is based on a percentage of the paying parent’s income.
While many matters in the divorce settlement are not subject to alteration, a child support payment amount can later be changed. However, the amount owed can only be changed under certain conditions.
Requirements for Changing Child Support
Changing the amount owed for child support is called a child support modification. The parent paying child support may qualify for a different payment amount if there has been a substantial change in circumstances.
The court leaves this open to interpretation. Common situations that qualify are loss of employment, alteration to the child custody schedule, and the birth of another child.
A court does not usually consider small changes to life circumstances or income. It will consider significant changes that have an impact on the parent’s ability to pay the current child support amount ordered.
Modifications can also be sought after an increase in income. A significant promotion might result in a higher child support payment.
How to Request a Change
There are laws governing how and when a modification to an existing child support agreement can be sought. In Michigan, many child support matters are handled by the Friend of the Court (FOC) Bureau. Most necessary paperwork is available at the courthouse FOC office.
If the parent receiving child support also receives public assistance funding, the FOC automatically conducts a review every three years to determine whether the existing child support amount is appropriate.
For families not receiving public assistance, the paying spouse can request that the FOC review the current payment amount. This request can only be made once every three years.
As part of the review, financial questionnaires are sent to both parents. The review ends with either a suggestion to keep the payments the same or a recommendation for a new amount.
If both parents agree to the proposed changes, the new payment goes into effect. If either parent contests the new proposed amount, the issue goes to a court hearing, where a judge will make the final decision.
Filing a Petition
Sometimes, substantial changes to income and personal responsibility happen before the three-year period has elapsed.
If less than three years have passed since your last review or the implementation of the child support payment agreement, you can file a court motion. You’ll need to complete the “Motion to Modify Support” form, which is available at the FOC office in your local courthouse.
Whichever route you take, it helps to work with an attorney to complete the paperwork and demonstrate that a modification is merited due to your altered circumstances. An attorney can help achieve a positive outcome more successfully than attempting to represent yourself in court.
Gucciardo Family Law Can Help
If you need help navigating changes to your child support plan, the family law attorneys at the Gucciardo Law Firm, PLLC, can help.
Call today to schedule a free new client consultation with an experienced family law attorney.
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