Child Support & Incarceration
Sentences Over One Year
Generally speaking, if you have been sentenced to incarceration for a period of time to exceed one year, you should immediately notify the Friend of the Court in writing and request the Friend of the Court to review your child support obligation.
Sentences Under One Year
If you have been sentenced to incarceration for a period of less than one year of time, your notice to the Friend of the Court of the same may not automatically trigger the review of your child support obligation. In that instance, you will need to file a motion with the Court to have your child support obligation reviewed. However, if you have not had your child support obligation reviewed within the last three years, you may request the Friend of the Court to review your child support obligation without having to file a motion.
Effective Date of Reductions
Generally, in the above cases, any reduction of your child support obligation shall only be effective from the date you provided written notice to the Friend of the Court of your incarceration.
Current Case Law & Statutory Law Regarding Retroactive Child Support Modification
Generally, payments due under a support order are not subject to retroactive modification; they may be modified only from the date that notice of a petition for modification was given to the other party. Michigan Compiled Laws (MCL) 552.603(2).
Your child support order will only be modified when and if the Court issues an order modifying your child support obligation. Notice to the Court of your incarceration, and even a child support review conducted by the Friend of the Court, does not change your child support obligation unless and until the Court issues an order directly providing for such a modification.
McLaughlin v. McLaughlin
In McLaughlin v. McLaughlin, 255 Mich App 475, 660 NW2d 784 (2003), the defendant requested the court to retroactively terminate his child support obligation for the period he was incarcerated. The motion was denied and the appellate court affirmed, holding that retroactive modification of child support for the period of incarceration was prohibited by MCL 552.603(2).
This is a common problem, as many prisoners do not seek termination of support until after they are released and enforcement action is taken. This case affirms that no relief will be available if prisoners fail to petition at the start of incarceration.