Child Support Retroactive Modification

The below Michigan Statute states the Court has authority to backdate a child support modification based on the "date that notice of the petition was given" to the payer or payee. This means to file a motion right away and document proof of service if support should be modified based on a difference in income, unemployment, change to the parenting schedule, etc. The motion hearing may be dismissed with entry of a consent order if an agreement is reached together. If not, the Court will decide the issues and will be able to backdate the request for support modification to the date notice of the motion was provided to the opposing party.  

MCL 552.603 Support order; enforcement; information to be included; notice of new information; service of notices or other papers; accrued interest prohibited; failure to comply with requirements; fee; admission into evidence.

Sec. 3.

(1) A support order issued by a court of this state shall be enforced as provided in this act.

(2) Except as otherwise provided in this section, a support order that is part of a judgment or is an order in a domestic relations matter is a judgment on and after the date the support amount is due as prescribed in section 5c, with the full force, effect, and attributes of a judgment of this state, and is not, on and after the date it is due, subject to retroactive modification. No additional action is necessary to reduce support to a final judgment. Retroactive modification of a support payment due under a support order is permissible with respect to a period during which there is pending a petition for modification, but only from the date that notice of the petition was given to the payer or recipient of support.

(3) This section does not apply to an ex parte interim support order or a temporary support order entered under supreme court rule.

(4) The office of the friend of the court shall make available to a payer or payee the forms and instructions described in section 5 of the friend of the court act, MCL 552.505.

(5) This section does not prohibit a court approved agreement between the parties to retroactively modify a support order. This section does not limit other enforcement remedies available under this or another act.

Shared Medical Expenses for Minor Child - 28 day rule

Child support typically includes a portion for uninsured medical expenses. Currently, the annual ordinary medical amount is $403 per year to be paid by the parent receiving child support.

Once this amount is exceeded, each parent has to pay a specific percentage for any additional uninsured expenses based on the child support formula calculations. The percentages vary based on each parent's income. It is important to keep documentation with receipts to submit verification and a written request for payment within 28 days of the insurance coverage determination, co-pay expense or prescription payment. If the other parent fails to pay within 28 days of the written request, the expense may be submitted on the required forms to the Friend of the Court for enforcement (as long as the case has not opted out of the Friend of the Court). It is also important to keep in mind that the request for enforcement be submitted within 6 months to the applicable Michigan Friend of the Court office to request assistance.

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Discovery Post-Judgment

Post-judgment discovery is not permitted without a motion hearing scheduled before the court.  If your name is listed on the account then you should be able to obtain statements directly. During the divorce, discovery requests are available with subpoena forms or a Request to Produce to the opposing party pursuant to the court rules: 
 
Rule 2.302 General Rules Governing Discovery
(A) Availability of Discovery.
(1) After commencement of an action, parties may obtain discovery by any
means provided in subchapter 2.300 of these rules.
(2) In actions in the district court, no discovery is permitted before entry of
judgment except by leave of the court or on the stipulation of all parties. A
motion for discovery may not be filed unless the discovery sought has
previously been requested and refused.
(3) Notwithstanding the provisions of this or any other rule, discovery is not
permitted in actions in the small claims division of the district court or in civil
infraction actions.
(4) After a postjudgment motion is filed pursuant to a domestic relations action
as defined by subchapter 3.200 of these rules, parties may obtain discovery by
any means provided in subchapter 2.300 of these rules.

When does child support end?

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Child support typically ends when the child turns 18 years old and graduates from high school. If the child turns 18 years old before school ends in June, child support continues until the end of June. Many Courts and the Friend of the Court require that support be paid through the end of the month to avoid prorated credits. Child support may continue until the child is 19 ½ if still attending high school.

Michigan Compiled Law - MCL 552.605b states that “The court may order child support for the time a child is regularly attending high school on a full-time basis with a reasonable expectation of completing sufficient credits to graduate from high school while residing on a full-time basis with the recipient of support or at an institution, but in no case after the child reaches 19 years and 6 months of age.”

The Court of Appeals decided the published case of Weaver v. Giffels (Docket No. 327844) on November 10, 2016. In this case, Mr. Giffels disputed the continued child support payment for his daughter who was eighteen years old but still in high school full-time. The daughter resided with both parents on an alternating shared physical custody basis with approximately 3 days every week at her father’s home. The Appeals Court agreed with Mr. Giffels and held that child support terminated after the child’s 18th birthday based on the shared parenting time arrangement. The case was reversed and remanded to the trial court to determine whether the child resided on a "full-time basis" with Defendant. This is a published case which means that the Appeal Court’s ruling is binding on all lower courts.

Note: The Defendant mother argued that because Plaintiff father had paid the child support as required by the contested order, the appeal was moot. The Court of Appeals specifically held to the contrary in Dean v. Dean, 175 Mich.App 714, 722; 438 NW2d 355 (1989).

How long does it take to finalize the divorce in Michigan?

After filing for divorce, the statutory waiting period is 60 days for cases without a minor child and 6 months for cases in which there is a minor child. There is no exception to the 60 day waiting period.  For the 6 month waiting period, Michigan Court Rule 3.210 (Sec. A). provides authority for the court to consider waiving the 6 month requirement typically for couples that have already separated and reached a signed settlement agreement. In all cases, the Court is required to make a finding on the record before approving the Judgment of Divorce. This means that the Plaintiff has to appear in court and answer a set of specific questions. The Court is required to confirm that there is jurisdiction over the parties, the status of custody, parenting time and support for any children or pregnancy, and that each party signed the necessary paperwork. The Court must also verify that there is no chance of reconciliation. After review of the required paperwork, the divorce will be final after the Judge determines and states the following which is similar to irreconcilable differences in other states: “there has been a breakdown in the marriage relationship to the extent that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed and there remains no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved.” This language is based on MCL 552.6. The below Michigan Court Rule provides authority for the court to waive the 6 month waiting period and to allow the parties to place proofs on the record after 60 days have expired:

RULE 3.210 HEARINGS AND TRIALS (A) In General.

(1) Proofs or testimony may not be taken in an action for divorce or separate maintenance until the expiration of the time prescribed by the applicable statute, except as otherwise provided by this rule.

(2) In cases of unusual hardship or compelling necessity, the court may, upon motion and proper showing, take testimony and render judgment at any time 60 days after the filing of the complaint.

(3) Testimony may be taken conditionally at any time for the purpose of perpetuating it.

(4) Testimony must be taken in person, except that the court may allow testimony to be taken by telephone in extraordinary circumstances, or under MCR 2.407.

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