When Michigan couples who share children separate or divorce, both parties are responsible for financially providing for their kids. As part of a separation or divorce agreement, one parent is often listed as the one with primary physical custody — even in cases where joint custody is awarded. According to family law, it is the other parent who will likely have to make child support payments. On occasion, one or both parties may feel it necessary to adjust the order of support. This week, this column will answer some commonly asked questions regarding support modification.

Question number one: When is it okay to ask for a support modification? Generally speaking, adjustments to child support orders are only allowed when one or both parents experience a change in their financial circumstances. Modifications may also be granted if a child experiences a change in his or her needs.

Question number two: How can one seek an adjustment? In the state of Michigan, there are two ways in which a parent may seek to modify an order of support: through the friend of the court office or in court. The FOC can review one’s case and determine if a change is warranted, then ask the court to modify the order without either parent having to go to court. Those who do not wish to go through the FOC for any reason can take the matter directly to court — regardless of whether one party is opposed to the proposed changes or both parties agree to them.

Question number three: Can a modification be sought more than once? Yes. Family and personal circumstances change — it is just a fact of life. Support orders are typically reviewed every three years and adjusted if needed. Those who cannot wait until the next scheduled review can file for adjustments when they feel it necessary.

Michigan residents who desire assistance either fighting for or against support adjustments or simply drafting new agreements can turn to an experienced family law attorney for help with the matter. At the end of the day, there are never any guarantees that one’s request will be approved. However, with the right assistance, one can be sure everything that can be done to support one’s case will be, which can certainly help one’s cause.