Ninth Judicial Circuit Court
FRIEND OF THE COURT HANDBOOK - MODIFICATION OF A SUPPORT ORDER
The FOC will review child support orders once every 36 months. Review and Modification Eligibility Notices will automatically be sent when your case is eligible and it is up to you to respond if you wish to have your support amount reviewed. The Friend of the Court may initiate a support review on its own initiative at any time if there is a change of circumstances as defined by MCL 552.517.
Within 180 days after determining that a review is required the FOC office will conduct a review, and obtain modification of the order, if appropriate.
If the FOC determines that no change of the order is warranted, then within 30 days of the determination the office shall advise the parties. If either party objects, a hearing will be scheduled before the court on the objection.
Parents often are unaware of the true financial condition of the other parent. Recommendations made under the Michigan Child Support Formula are based upon the income of both parents. A request from the custodial parent for an increase in child support could result in a decrease in child support if the non-custodial parent's income has declined. Similarly, a request for a decrease in child support could result in an increase in support under some circumstances. Before asking for a modification review, be aware that the results may not be what you want or expect if the facts do not support your position.
Threshold for Modification
A minimum threshold has been established for child support to be changed. The threshold is the lesser of 10% of the ordered amount or $25.00 per month.
If the difference between the current amount and the proposed amount is at least 10% of the existing order or $25.00 per month, the FOC will petition for a change.
If the difference between the current amount and the proposed amount is not at least 10% of the existing order or $25.00 per month, the FOC is not required to petition for a change. The FOC or either party may still file for a change even if the threshold is not met.
Support Modification Actions Started by Parties
A party can file a motion for a change in their support order. The FOC has forms and instructions available if a party is interested in filing a motion on their own behalf. Any change in support may be retroactive to the date that notice of the petition was given to the opposite party. A party may also contact an attorney to file a motion for a change in support.
If both parties agree to a change in the support order, they may sign an agreement (stipulation or consent order). This agreement will be entered as a support order if approved by the court.
Non-Retroactive Modification of Support
Michigan law does not allow child support to be modified retroactively; that is, support can only be modified for the future, not for payments that have already become due. Once child support is ordered or billed to your account, it is due and payable and usually cannot be changed.
Because of this, if your income changes, e.g. if you are a payer of support and you lose your job, you should immediately file a motion or otherwise start proceedings to have your support changed. Do not wait until you go back to work or otherwise regain an income. If you delay in filing a motion, you may be required to pay support that could have been ordered at a lower rate based upon your lower income.
Simply notifying the court or the FOC office that you are off work is not enough. You must file a motion before support can be changed. You can file a motion with the help of an attorney. You can also file a motion using forms available from the FOC office. Ask for the Support Modification packet.
If it has been more than 36 months since support was established or last changed, another way to seek to have your support changed is that you may request the FOC do a modification review.
An exception to the rule that support cannot be retroactively modified exists when a party knowingly and intentionally fails or refuses to report income, or knowingly misrepresents income that was required by the court to be reported to the FOC. This can be used to increase support retroactively if the payer does not report additional income, but in some cases could be used to reduce a support order if the recipient of support failed to report income.