Michigan Child Support Calculator

A legal advocacy project of Michelle Steffen, Attorney.

Are You Having Trouble Paying Your Child Support Because of Coronavirus? Here's what you need to know


"Losing Hand" by Damian Gadal is licensed under CC BY 2.0


Have you lost your job because of Coronavirus? Are you wondering how your state can tell you not to go to work while simultaneously telling you to pay up? Here's what you need to know.


What To Do If You Cannot Pay Child Support Because of Coronavirus


You CAN take action to reduce your child support payments


You can ask the court to reexamine the amount of your child support payments when you lose your job. This is true whether you lose your job because of Coronavirus or any other reason. As long as you didn't intentionally lose your job (which you didn't), the court should recalculate the support amount based on your actual ability to earn. While stay-at-home and quarantine orders remain in place, this amount very well might be 0 for many of you.


You MUST take action if you want your child support payments reduced


A child support order doesn't change itself. You must take action to change your child support order. A change in child support dates back to the day that you file the court motion.


For example, you lose your job on April 1. You file to modify child support on April 15. Your child support change takes effect April 15. The court can only go back to the date that you file the court motion, even if you lost your job a lot earlier. In other words, don't wait another day to file a court motion regarding your child support.


Here's how to file a motion to modify your child support payments


To modify your child support payments, you need to file a motion with the court. Your state should have a court form that you can use to write the motion. In Michigan, the form is FOC50 Motion Regarding Support. Your state should have a self-help website or a form like this that you can find to use. Here is Michigan's self-help website.


Check your county's website (where your FOC is located) for instructions on how to file the motion. Here is Kent County's website, complete with Coronavirus-specific guidance. Generally, what you need to do is the following:

1. Prepare the court motion

2. Make copies

3. Send one copy to the court along with the filing fee ($60) or a fee waiver

4. Send a copy of the court motion to the other parent via postal mail


The court will give you further instructions. A hearing may be held virtually, or you may not have a hearing for a long time. However, rest assured that when the court finally decides the order, the decision will date back to the day that you filed the motion.


Here is Kent County's Coronavirus child support guidance:


Even if the court gives you grief, file the motion anyways


Remember, the court gets a kickback from every dollar you pay in child support. That makes them in no hurry to help you exercise your rights. Don't be surprised if they make excuses, or tell you they're not scheduling any hearings. It doesn't matter. The revised child support order dates back to the date you file it, even if they drag their feet scheduling a hearing. File the court motion even if the court representatives tell you they will not hear your case or they give you other excuses. If the court isn't open to accept the motion in person, mail the motion to the court.


If unemployment comes through, you can have your child support modified again


Even if you expect to get unemployment, file your court motion anyways. When your unemployment comes through, your child support can be modified again, or you can withdraw your motion. Yes, the amount you get in unemployment will be used to calculate your new child support amount.


What should happen is that the court should set one support amount for the period that you have no income. If your unemployment comes through, they can determine another support amount based on that amount. With state unemployment sites crashing, and no guarantees until you have a check in your hands, banking on unemployment coming through is awfully risky, in my opinion. Once you have unemployment payments, the court can create a child support award based on those earnings. In the meantime, you can have the period where you have no income reflected in your payment amounts.


If your support was being garnished, you now have to pay directly


When you were working, your child support may have been garnished directly from your paycheck. If you lost your job, the garnishment stopped, of course. However, that doesn't mean your child support obligation stopped. Instead, the monthly amount is still in place. You're just supposed to be paying it to the FOC yourself. The only way to change the child support amount is to file a court motion.


Coronavirus and employment disruptions


In summary, your child support payments won't change themselves. If you've heard one thing I've said, it's get that court motion filed. Otherwise, you continue to owe the monthly amount, month after month, whether you are earning an income or not.


With the financial hardships that many of us are facing right now, don't let this problem creep up on you. You can address your child support payments by taking action.



About the author


Michelle Steffen is a licensed Michigan attorney and former assistant prosecutor. She creates search-engine optimized website content for law firms that drives website traffic and ultimately, new clients.