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Can You Adjust a Child Support Order?

One frequently asked question we get at Berlin Family Law Group is, “can a child support order be adjusted?” With over 20 years of serving Michigan’s family law needs, we’re here to provide clarity on this topic.

Understanding Child Support Orders

First and foremost, child support orders are established to ensure the financial well-being of the child. They are determined based on the incomes of both parents, the needs of the child, and other relevant factors. However, life is dynamic, and circumstances can change. So, does the law provide room for adjustments?

When Can a Child Support Order be Modified?

Several significant changes in circumstances can warrant a review and possible modification of the existing child support order. Let’s dive into these factors.

Change in Financial Circumstances

Financial stability can sometimes be elusive, with highs and lows often coming unannounced.

  • Job Loss: If a parent loses their job, the resultant financial strain can drastically affect their ability to meet child support obligations. Courts recognize this and may adjust the support amount temporarily until the parent finds new employment.
  • Substantial Raise or New Job: Conversely, if a parent secures a high-paying job or gets a considerable raise, the other parent might seek an increase in support to ensure the child benefits from both parents’ financial successes.
  • Retirement: Retirement can significantly alter a parent’s income. If retirement leads to a reduction in a parent’s earnings, it might be grounds to reduce the child support they’re required to pay.

Change in Child’s Needs

As children grow, their needs evolve, and sometimes these changes demand additional financial support.

  • Medical Emergencies: Unexpected health issues or medical emergencies can lead to hefty expenses. Courts might adjust child support to ensure these essential medical needs are met without compromising the child’s overall well-being.
  • Educational Requirements: Whether it’s the need for special education resources, tuition for a prestigious school, or costs related to extracurricular activities, changes in educational needs can be a valid reason for modification.

Change in Custody or Parenting Time

The dynamics of parenting post-divorce or separation can change, impacting the child’s financial needs.

  • Shift in Living Arrangements: If the child begins to live predominantly with one parent, the other parent might be required to contribute more to meet the child’s daily expenses.
  • Alterations in Parenting Time: Even if custody doesn’t change, significant changes in the time the child spends with each parent can influence expenses and might warrant a review of the support order.

The common thread through all these factors is the child’s best interest. Adjustments to child support are designed to ensure the child’s needs are met, regardless of changes in parental circumstances.

The Process of Adjusting Child Support

Informal agreements between parents aren’t legally binding. To modify a child support order, a formal request must be made to the court. Once filed, both parties typically provide evidence supporting their claims for the desired changes. The court then evaluates the presented information in light of the child’s best interests.

There are two ways to start a child support order review:

  1. If either parent receives public assistance, the Friend of the Court automatically reviews the child support order amount every 36 months. If you are not receiving public assistance, you may still request a child support order review every 36 months.
  2. If it has been less than 36 months since the last court order review, either parent may file a court motion to change the child support order.

Contact a Michigan Family Lawyer Today

If you find yourself in a situation where you believe a child support order adjustment is warranted, or if you have any questions related to family law, don’t hesitate to reach out. At Berlin Family Law Group, we’ve stood by Michigan families for over two decades, offering guidance and expertise. Contact us online or call (248) 655-7980 to discuss your situation and learn how we can assist you.

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