Changing a Child Support Order - Self Help
The following information will take you through the steps in a proceeding to change a support order. These instructions apply generally to all circuit courts and friend of the court offices, but there can be differences in local practice. For information about these local practices, contact the court and the friend of the court office in the county where you are going to file your motion. Online help is also available from Michigan Legal Help
to prepare forms through an automated interview process and to provide toolkits with legal articles, FAQs, procedure, and other resources.
Statutes, Court Rules, and Other Resources
Using Court Forms
Court forms are available for use in changing support orders. These forms follow the procedures stated in the Michigan Compiled Laws and Michigan Court Rules and can be used without the assistance of an attorney. Instructions for completing and using the forms are included.
When completing a form online, you must print the number of copies you will need for filing with the court and serving on the parties. See the upper right-hand corner of each form for this information. If you do not provide the court with the correct number of copies, the court might reject the form for nonconformance under the authority of Michigan Court Rule 8.119(C). Unless specifically required by court rule or statute, the court is not responsible for making copies of forms for you.
How to Begin Your Request
To request a change in your support order, you must file a motion with the circuit court where your case exists. You are the "moving party." The other party is referred to as the "respondent" in this Self-Help Center. Select the form you need based on the situation described below and follow the instructions for completing and processing provided with each form. You must state adequate facts and details in your motion.
- If your existing support order is an "ex parte order" (a temporary order entered without a hearing), use the Objection to Ex parte Order and Motion to Modify or Rescind.
- If your existing support order was entered after a hearing, use the Motion Regarding Support.
The cost of filing a motion is $20.00. The moving party is responsible for paying the filing fee and any other required fees.
Serving the Motion to Change Support
After you have filed your motion, you must notify the respondent that you have filed a motion to change support and the date to be in court. Serve the motion on the respondent by first class mail to the last known address of the respondent. Follow the instructions on the forms to make sure you serve the court papers as required. See also MCR 2.107
and MCR 3.203
for service requirements. See general information about service.
What if You Get a Motion to Change Support
If you are served with a motion to change support, you are the "respondent." You must appear and answer the motion by the date on the notice of hearing. You can appear and answer by either: 1) filing a written reply or motion and serving the moving party with that reply or motion; or 2) orally answering each allegation in the motion at the hearing. You have the right to be represented by an attorney.
If you do not appear and answer and there is proof in the court file that the motion was served on you, the court may continue without your presence. This means the judge can grant a change in support as requested by the moving party without hearing from you. Even if you and the moving party agreed to the change in support, and the motion states what you agreed to, you should still respond to the motion.
Preparing for the Hearing
On the hearing date, any of the following may happen:
- If both the moving party and the respondent appear, the court may recommend that the parties go to mediation and the case may be adjourned. If either party does not want to attempt mediation, the hearing will proceed. See MCR 3.216 for information about domestic relations mediation.
- If the moving party does not appear and the respondent does, the motion may be dismissed, and the court may assess costs against the moving party.
- If the respondent does not appear and the moving party does, the hearing may be held and the court may grant the moving party's request if the court decides the moving party has presented sufficient grounds for a change in support.
The hearing will usually take place at the court where the motion was filed. It is important to be there on time; if you filed the motion and are not in court when your case is called, the motion may be dismissed. If you are the respondent and are not in court when the case is called, the hearing may continue without your presence. Bring all of your relevant papers or other evidence and make sure your witnesses are on time.
A support motion will be heard by a judge or a referee. The hearing will be recorded.
The court clerk will call the case and both the moving party and the respondent will appear before the judge or referee.
The judge or referee will ask the moving party to state the facts and law in support of the motion. When the moving party has finished, the respondent will have an opportunity to respond. Each party should listen carefully. If either party thinks someone is leaving something out or is misstating facts, they should be sure to tell the judge or referee. Both parties should take their time and tell what happened in their own words and why they think the court should order what they seek.
The moving party will be seeking the relief requested in the motion, while the respondent may ask the court to grant the relief requested, grant some other form of relief, or dismiss the motion altogether. Each party may present evidence to support his or her argument. Witnesses will be allowed to tell the court about facts they know that support this evidence. See general information about hearings
See also MCR 3.210
for information about domestic relations hearings.
If the hearing was held before a referee, a recommended order will be prepared by the referee within 21 days after the hearing. This recommendation will be served on the parties. If you do not agree with the referee's recommendation, you have 21 days after being served with the recommendation to file an objection and to request a de novo hearing before the judge. Use the Objection to Referee's Recommended Order, form FOC 68. See MCR 3.215
for information about domestic relations referees.
If the hearing was held before a judge, the moving party prepares the order (form FOC 10/52 or FOC 10a/52a) after the hearing even if the order is not what they requested. In some courts that order has to be approved by the friend of the court before the judge will sign it. Call the friend of the court office and ask them if the order must be approved by them. Once the order is completed, approved as necessary, and signed by the judge, the moving party must file it with the clerk of the court. It will cost $80.00 to have the support order processed by the clerk of the court. If the order is not filed, it does not become effective.
If the hearing was held before a judge, the judge will ask one of the parties to prepare the order. This is usually the person who was successful in arguing the motion. This person is called the "prevailing party." The prevailing party prepares the order after the hearing (form FOC 10/52 or FOC 10a/52a) after the hearing. The order must then be signed by the judge.
Some courts may require the order to be approved by the friend of the court before the judge will sign it. Call the friend of the court office and ask them if they must approve the order before the court will enter it. Once the order is completed, approved as necessary, and signed by the judge, the moving party must file it with the clerk of the court. It will cost $80.00 to have the custody order processed by the clerk of the court. If the order is not filed, it does not become effective.
Both parties are required obey the order. If you do not obey the order, the other party can file a motion to order you into court to explain why you shouldn't be held in contempt for violating the order.
See MCR 3.211
for more information about domestic relations orders.
Serving the Order
Unless the hearing was held before a referee, the prevailing party must serve the signed order on the other party after it is filed with the clerk of the court. If you do not serve the other party with a copy of the order, you may have trouble getting the order enforced. Serve the order by first-class mail to the last known address of the other party. Follow the instructions on the forms to make sure you serve the court papers as required. See also MCR 2.107
and MCR 3.203
for service requirements. See general information about service.
Enforcing the Order