As discussed in a previous post, failure to pay child support payments is incredibly serious. You do not want to try to skirt your legal duties. However, the harshness of the enforcement methods does not mean that you cannot seek modifications of child support. There is no strict formula that the court follows to determine child support orders. The guidelines are there to ensure the judge considers all factors appropriately. Each judge may make up his or her own mind based upon the facts.
If a parent is having trouble keeping up with his or her support payments, it is possible to request a support review so as to have the agreement modified. In Michigan, child support is handled by the Friend of the Court. If you are receiving public assistance or it has been 36 months, then the Friend of the Court will automatically review your orders. If you're not collecting public assistance, it is possible to file for a review every 36 months.
However, not everyone's substantial change in circumstances comes every 36 months. In these instances, consulting a skilled family law attorney is critical to modifying your orders. Your attorney must file a motion with the court establishing why there was a substantial change and what the new order should be. Your attorney will ask you to gather documents to establish income and wealth. These documents will typically include pay stubs, bank records and tax records. As skilled as your attorney may be, you must not procrastinate in obtaining these records. They will be critical at the hearing to modify your orders. Retaining an attorney that is experienced in the emotional and financial aspects of child support will help you clarify your position.
Generally, when a substantial change has occurred, it happened fast, so you will want your attorney to act quickly and efficiently. Often it is simpler to reach out to the other parent and submit a joint motion. As acrimonious as your divorce may have been, it is helpful that you maintain good relations with your ex-spouse. An experienced attorney will know this and advise you on how to move forward with these changes. Modification isn't impossible, but it takes hard work and cooperation. Hire an attorney and trust them to get the modifications you need.