If you recently got divorced in Michigan, or if you have been divorced for quite some time, you might be wondering if you are eligible to modify an existing order. There are many different reasons that you may need to revise or alter a court order from your divorce, from a job loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic to a relocation to a serious disability. Whether you want to change an alimony order, a child custody arrangement, or a child support obligation, you will need to seek advice from an experienced Michigan divorce attorney. Generally speaking, it may be possible to ask the court to modify an existing order if you have experienced a change in circumstances. Yet understanding what constitutes a change in circumstances, and proving that you have experienced a change in circumstances significant enough to warrant a modification, can be complicated.
Modifying an Alimony or Spousal Maintenance Order
Under Michigan law, if a party paying modifiable alimony believes that the amount of support or maintenance should be modified due to a change in circumstances, that party can petition the court for a modification. In the case of alimony or maintenance, a change in circumstances can be a bit different from the type of change in circumstance that would warrant a modification of a child support or child custody order.
Certainly, if the paying party loses his or her job or is forced to take a lower-paying position (for a reason unrelated to that party’s desire to avoid paying alimony), the court can consider a modification of the alimony payment. Similarly, if the paying party suffers a serious injury or illness and becomes disabled, that paying party likely will not be able to continue paying the same amount of alimony. These changes in circumstance are somewhat similar to the types of changes in circumstance that could also lead to a modification of a child support order.
At the same time, alimony can be modified if the paying party learns that the receiving spouse has had a change in circumstances too. For example, if the receiving spouse has accepted a new job that has that spouse earning substantially more money than at the time of the divorce when the maintenance award was made, the paying spouse could ask the court to modify or terminate the support.
Modifying Child Support
Asking the court to modify child support will require a similar change in circumstances to a request to modify alimony. Generally speaking, in order to modify your obligation of the child support order (or to modify the other parent’s portion of the obligation), you will need to show that there has been a change in circumstances. The moving party will also have to meet the threshold for child support modification which is at a minimum 10% change in the amount or $50, whichever is greater.
Under Michigan child support law, the court will review child support obligations after 36 months have passed so long as a request for the statutory review is made by one of the parties. If 36 months have not yet passed, you will need to file a court motion to change your child support order. To modify child support, the court will typically require a parent to provide recent paycheck stubs, federal and state income tax returns, W-2s, 1099s, and any other relevant financial documentation.
Modifying Child Custody and Parenting Time
A change in circumstances must also occur for a Michigan court to modify child custody. While a financial change in circumstances may not necessitate a modification of child custody or parenting time, a relocation or change in work hours certainly can be a reason for a parent to request that the court modify child custody. Parenting time and child custody orders may only be modified upon “proper cause shown” or a showing of “a change in circumstances.”
Contact a Michigan Family Law Attorney for Assistance
Do you have questions or concerns about modifying an existing Michigan divorce order? One of our experienced Michigan divorce attorneys can speak with you today about your situation. You may have options to modify a divorce order. Contact Mihelich & Kavanaugh, PLC for more information about how we can assist you.