"Can I modify my child support?" Yes. "Should I?" Well, that depends…
We often get calls from people who want to modify the amount of child support they are either paying or collecting. In a surprise to nobody, most people who are paying child support want to pay less and most people receiving child support want to receive more.
Often times, people expect questions about child support to have very simple answers, but sometimes the answers are far from simple.
So, before you file a Motion to Modify Child Support, it’s important to think about whether you should file a Motion to Modify Child Support. The analysis shouldn’t stop at “I make less money now,” or, “he/she makes more money now,” because that is not the only factor that the Michigan Child Support Formula considers. Take the following example:
1. Parent A and Parent B split up when their one child is 3-years-old.
2. A Child Support Order is entered using the Michigan Child Support Guidelines based on how many overnights each Parent has with the child per year, the Parents' individual incomes, costs for health insurance coverage for the child, and necessary child care expenses (the child spends 3 days a week in child care while the Parents are working).
3. The Order provides that Parent A will pay Parent B $400/month in support and contribute $200/month for necessary child care for a total of $600/month.
4. Two years later, Parent A (the payer of child support) gets a raise of a few thousand dollars a year.
5. Parent B finds out about the raise and files a Motion to Modify Child Support.
6. However, by now the child has entered kindergarten and there are no longer any child care expenses (under the parties’ Order, Parent A was still paying $200/month for child care expenses, even though the parties were no longer using child care, because the Order was never modified).
7. With Parent A’s increased income, under the guidelines, he/she is ordered to pay $25/month more for support than he/she had been paying under the previous Child Support Order.
8. However, the Court is now aware that there are no child care expenses and eliminates Parent A’s $200/month contribution towards necessary child care.
9. In other words, Parent A is now paying $425/month total instead of $600/month total.
In the example I just described, Parent B rushed to modify child support after learning about the other Parent’s pay raise and ended up losing $175/month.
This is a good example of why you should consult an attorney before deciding whether or not to file a motion. A good family law attorney will run the child support numbers for you in his/her office and tell you exactly what amount of child support will be ordered so that you know ahead of time and can base your decision accordingly.