Waterford & Clarkston Support Modification Lawyer
In any divorce or custody proceeding conducted in a family court, a support obligation -whether spousal support or child support- may be modified if certain conditions are established. Unlike a property division in a divorce proceeding which is final, support can be modified. This is because our law recognizes that a person’s ability to pay support, and the recipient’s need to receive support, are constantly in flux.
Not just any change in circumstance will convince a family court judge that a modification of support is appropriate. The child support laws in Michigan have established various markers to justify an increase or decrease in a support obligation. A valuable reference tool for determining or modifying a child support obligation is the Michigan Child Support Formula Manual, most recently published in 2013. Reach out to an Waterford & Clarkston support modification lawyer for assistance in the complex legal world of spousal and child support laws.
The procedure for a modification of child support is through filing a motion by one of the parties to the proceeding, or a motion can come from the Friend of the Court. The party filing such a motion has the burden to persuade the family court that proper cause or a “change in circumstance” exists to justify modifying the support obligation. If both the support payor and the payee agree, then a hearing on the issue will not be required and usually a stipulated order [i.e. an order entered by the court with the agreement of both parties] will suffice.
The most common example of a change in circumstance justifying modification of a support obligation is a significant change in income. The MCSF Manual expressly recognizes the following as valid changes of circumstance that may justify a child support modification:
- The support payor begins or stops receiving social security benefits;
- The minor child begins to receive social security benefits;
- A payor suffers a long-term disability affecting the payor’s ability to work;
- Either parents’ income changes by more than 75%;
- A parent is called to active military duty;
- Significant changes in the medical expenses of a party; or
- A change in the payor’s financial circumstances due to other support obligations [i.e. commencement or termination of a spousal support obligation, the emancipation of a child, or payment of support in a separate family court matter].
The above is by no means an exhaustive list and we have experience in dealing with a wide variety of support modification situations. Give our law firm a call if you believe you may be paying too much child support, or conversely, if you believe you may be entitled to an increase in child support.
Spousal Support. A modification of spousal support is largely governed by three statutes that recognize certain situations justifying a change in alimony. Perhaps the single most significant factor in the termination of a spousal support obligation is the remarriage of the payee. While remarriage is no longer a conclusive reason to terminate alimony, it is a very significant equitable factor. The law does not favor an ex-spouse supporting another ex-spouse when that person has re-married and will not depend on, and look to, their new spouse of financial support and maintenance.
Like child support, alimony is also modifiable due to a change in circumstances. The same financial and income considerations apply and most cases are fact-specific. As in child support cases, modification of a spousal support obligation is done via the stipulation of the parties or, if there is no agreement, through a motion in the family court. The party moving the court for a modification bears the burden of presenting evidence justifying the change, and the related burden of persuading the fact finder [i.e. the family court judge or the Friend of the Court referee] that a modification is appropriate.
Call an Waterford & Clarkston Support Modification Lawyer Today
If you believe you are paying excess alimony, or conversely, if you believe you may be entitled to an increase in spousal support, Clarkston Legal offers a free consultation to explore your options.