The Michigan Court of Appeals has clarified when a party may ask for modification of a child support order after entry of a divorce judgment.
In Mann v Pischke, Docket No. 265561 (Unpublished, decided March 6, 2007) In Mann, the trial court erred by applying the Shared Economic Responsibility Formula (“SERF“) to lower Defendant Father’s child support obligation for two children from $1196.26 per month to $725 per month.
In Mann, the parties had negotiated the child custody, child support and property, and entered into a consent judgment. This JOD awarded the mother sole legal custody and primary custody. The father was awarded 154 overnights which would have triggered SERF. However, in exchange for other concessions, the father/non-custodial parent agreed to pay child support according to the sole custody formula. He later sought to lower his support obligation and relied upon a Friend of the Court recommendation that the support be lowered.
The COA held that unless there are actual changes in circumstances—such as a modification of custody or parenting time after entry of the last custody order or reduced income—that a party is not entitled to a reduction in support and/or to application of SERF, stating that “the defendant had agreed to “a comprehensive settlement which involved extensive parenting time as well as what the child support obligation should be,” and should not after the fact be heard to argue for application of a different formula where there was no apparent change in the circumstances relevant when the parties agreed upon the initial judgment.
You may read Mann v Pischke here.
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