Is it Possible to Modify Existing Child Custody and Child Support Orders in Michigan?

In child custody agreements, family law courts believe that normalcy and the status quo are good for children. As always, family law judges must look out for the best interests of children when making child custody decisions. There must be good cause to shake up the stability of an existing child custody arrangement. This can slow the process of child custody modifications. However, there are several instances where an alteration of the child custody arrangement may be in the best interest of the minor child.

The amount of child support payments is based on each parent’s economic situation and the child’s needs at the time of the child support court order. However, these circumstances may change. When that happens, family law courts allow child support to be modified. There are two primary methods to seek modifications to child support arrangements. Either a parent can go to the family law court and petition for child support modifications with the help of an experienced attorney, or they can request a Friend of the Court (FOC) review. Parents are entitled to FOC reviews every 36 months, but a new review can be requested anytime there has been a substantial change in economic circumstances.

What is the Process of Modifying Child Custody Orders in MI?

Even if both parents agree that child custody needs to be changed in Michigan, they must still file an official motion and get a hearing in front of a family law judge. In cases where the parents do not agree on child custody modifications, it is all the more important for both parents to seek individual legal counsel to represent their interests.

The moving party is the individual who files the motion to modify child custody. The other parent is the respondent. There is a legal fee associated with filing the motion to modify child custody. After filing the motion, you will receive a court hearing date. The language and details you include in your original motion are vitally important to whether you are successful in modifying child custody orders. However, if you were the defendant in the divorce or custody case, you are thereafter always the defendant. Or, if you were the plaintiff, same thing, you are then always the plaintiff.
At the court hearing, both parents will present their arguments for why child custody should or should not be altered in any way. A family law judge will consider the legal arguments made by the interested parties and their legal representatives, as well as review all evidence relevant to the case.

When Can You Change Child Custody Arrangements?

There is no time limit or time frame for when you are allowed to request a change to your child custody orders. However, Michigan law requires that you must present proper cause or a significant change in circumstances in order to qualify for a successful child custody modification. State law presumes that maintaining stability is in the best interests of the children and is reluctant to modify child custody arrangements unless it is deemed absolutely necessary.

It is not essential that you have both proper cause and a significant change in circumstances to be successful in your child custody modification request. Simply one or the other will do. That said, the burden of proof falls on the person asking for the custody change, and it will be up to their family law lawyers to put together a convincing case for why a modification should be ordered.

How Does a Family Law Judge Decide Whether to Change Child Custody?

Judges examine several factors when deciding whether to change existing child custody agreements in Michigan. These include:

  • How long a child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment.
  • One or both parents have a significant change in financial circumstances.
  • The capacity and disposition of interested parties to provide the child with adequate food, clothing, health care, and education.
  • The custodial parent relocates.
  • The home, school, and community records of the minor child.
  • The moral fitness of both parents.
  • The permanence of a family unit.
  • There is proof of domestic violence or abuse.

How to Request a Child Support Modification?

For several reasons, there are instances where parents may wish to or be entitled to changes in their child support obligations. Sometimes, the Child Support Formula and guidelines do not properly reflect an individual’s current situation. Other times, there may be a change in circumstances.

In order to successfully petition a change for child support modifications, it is necessary to present evidence of a significant change in circumstances. Modifications of child support may be either permanent or temporary. Temporary orders are more common in emergency circumstances.

If you already have a family law court case, either party can file a motion regarding support to ask the judge to alter the child support amounts. If you do not already have an existing case, there are two other ways to request a change in child support. One legal option is to apply through the Office of Child Support (OCS). After you submit an application to the OCS, they will begin a child support case. If you apply for child support through OCS, the prosecuting attorney’s office will handle your court case. If you wish to file for child support on your own and your paternity has already been established, you can file a complaint for custody, parenting time, and child support with the help of an experienced attorney.

What Are Common Examples for Child Support Modifications?

Common reasons for changing child support orders include:

  • A parent has been incarcerated or released from incarceration.
  • Change in physical or legal custody.
  • Loss of healthcare coverage.
  • Minor children’s new special needs must be considered.
  • One or more of the children have reached the age of emancipation.
  • One of the parents becomes disabled either because of an injury or illness.
  • One of the parties has another child.
  • Significant changes in income for either parent.
  • The child has begun to earn significant income of their own.
  • The child has remarkable educational expenses.
  • There is a change in childcare payments.
  • There were mistakes in the original child support orders.
  • And more.

Contact Us for a Free Consultation Today

In most cases, Michigan child support and child custody orders should not be considered to be permanent, unchangeable court orders. It is entirely possible to request modifications to either child support or child custody orders in Michigan. Circumstances change, and there may be cause to alter previous orders to reflect those changes. With that said, parents must understand that the process for changing child custody or child support orders in Michigan can be fairly complex, time-consuming, and sometimes costly.

Our law firm has extensive legal experience handling both child support and child custody cases in the state of Michigan. To discuss your legal issues in more detail, please get in touch with our law offices to schedule your free initial consultation today. You may reach us at 248-290-6675.