Not only is it possible that at some point a divorce judgment may be modified, it is fairly likely. Parents may need to move for job changes, child support amounts may need to be amended depending upon the needs of the child or the circumstances of the parent, and parenting plans may need tweaking. All of these changes and others are handled through a request filed with the court to modify the current judgment. Modifications can be filed for child support, child custody, parenting time, and spousal support.
What is it exactly?
To understand post-judgment modifications, it is important to know what your judgment actually sets forth to start. For example, your parenting plan may be extremely specific as to times and dates of custody and scheduling. On the other hand, the plan could merely state that the parties will share reasonable and regular parenting time. In the former case, a modification of the judgment parenting plan would likely be required even for minor changes to the parenting plan. In the latter, modification may not be required at all if the changes still fit within the reasonable and regular parenting time schedule.
When can you make a modification?
If a modification does need to be made, a motion to modify must be made with the requisite initial showing of the moving party that there is a good reason for the change. In child support modification cases, there must be a “substantial change of circumstances” to justify the change. Changes that would qualify as substantial include a parent losing a job, a parent becoming employed or getting a raise, the cost of raising the child has increased, or a change in custody arrangements. Note that Michigan prohibits retroactive changes in child support, so the sooner after the change in circumstances you file a modification request, the better.
In cases where spousal
support has been awarded, it is possible to modify the award where circumstances have changed. However, if the parties agreed in the original decree that the spousal support judgment would be non-modifiable, the judgment cannot be modified, even in situations where there has been a dramatic change in circumstances. Where the parties have not agreed that the judgment is not modifiable, then petitions can be made to modify the spousal support if there has been a change of circumstances. Qualifying changes include an increase or decrease in the income of the payor or illness of the recipient spouse. The ex-spouse seeking the change bears the burden of proof to show that the change is warranted, but can only be entitled to retroactive modification dating back to the date that the motion to modify is filed.
If you are looking to modify a judgment of child support, spousal support, or something similar, the best place to start is by contacting a qualified and knowledgeable Michigan family law attorney, such as an attorney with Melissa Pearce & Associations, PLC. Our attorneys provide compassionate, efficient, and high quality representation in a wide range of family law matters and are ready to help you. Call us at (248) 676-8976 today.
~Originally Published in november 2017~