March 27, 2023

Volume XIII, Number 86


March 24, 2023

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The Effects of COVID-19 on Support Orders

In the wake of COVID-19 and Governor Whitmer's Executive Order 2020-21, millions of people find themselves with limited or no income. What does this mean for their existing child and spousal support orders? Current orders remain in place, and arrears will accrue based on the amount ordered. The Family Support Act requires the Friend of the Court offices to review child support orders not less than every three years, however, the act allows for more frequent reviews upon a substantial change in circumstances.

If the payor and payee can reach agreement for temporary modifications, they should put them in writing and submit revised Uniform Child or Spousal Support Orders to the court for entry. Without an agreement, people should consider filing a motion to modify their support orders. There is a caveat for people who have non-modifiable spousal support orders, as the court is not likely to modify such obligations. If there is any ambiguity in your judgment, you should review with an attorney.

Every county's Friend of the Court website has information on how to file modification motions. Though most courts are not able to handle anything beyond emergency filings, they are still processing filings, and your motion will at least preserve your date for retroactive modification so that the revised amount will go into effect retroactively to the date you filed the motion. In addition, the Michigan State Disbursement Unit remains operational and will continue to process payments as received.

Ottawa County is allowing anyone who has a lost a job or income due to COVID-19 to call or email their Friend of the Court investigator and request a joint phone conference to review child support for modification (no motion or appointment needed). They will promptly enter orders on agreements and will refer any disagreements to a phone or video conference with a referee.

The Michigan Supreme Court, State Bar of Michigan, the local courts, the state legislature and attorneys are working together every day to improve access to the courts and address people's concerns about support, filing deadlines and enforcement/modification of orders during this crisis. 

© 2023 Varnum LLPNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 98

About this Author

Shalini Nangia Family Law Attorney Varnum Ann Arbor, MI

Shalini is a member of the Family Law Practice Team. She specializes in family law litigation, including high-income and high-asset divorces, custody and parenting time, child support, paternity, property division, retirement benefits and post-judgment matters. Her goal is to help clients during one of the most difficult times of their lives get from Point A to Point B in the most efficient and painless manner possible.

Shalini is a trained mediator and an adjunct faculty member teaching family law at the University of Detroit - Mercy School of Law, as well as a regular presenter...

Julia A. Perkins Family Law Attorney Varnum Novi, MI

Julia is the chair of the Family Law Team and works with clients in family law matters including divorce, child custody, child support and parenting time matters. She has unique experience with international custody cases and valuation and division of high net worth marital estates. She is also a certified mediator with a focus in family law.

Julia's experience also includes representing clients in commercial litigation.

Practice Areas

  • Family Law
  • Adoption
  • Business Owners: Valuations
  • Custody, Parenting Time and Child Support
  • ...
Erika L. Salerno, Kalamazoo, MI, Family Law attorney, Varnum

Erika handles family law litigation matters including complex divorces, initial and post judgment child custody matters, change of domicile, paternity, minor guardianship and third-party custody cases involving multistate jurisdictional issues across southwest Michigan. As a domestic relations mediator, she is frequently retained by other lawyers to mediate their most challenging cases. Trained in Collaborative Law, Erika has worked with clients using the Collaborative Law Process since she was trained in 2000.

In addition to her family law...

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