Can Relocation Affect Child Support?

Van full of moving boxes and furniture near house - relocation affect child support concept

Since divorce and custody are handled in state court, not federal court, you may wonder if relocation affects child support. Your financial security or even your ability to relocate may depend on whether you have to pay or will receive court-ordered child support once you get there. Here is what you need to know about interstate child support orders, and what you need to do if you or your spouse moves out of state.

Can You Relocate After a Child Support Order is Entered?

There is nothing in a Uniform Child Support Order that prevents you or your spouse from moving. However, most child support orders are entered along with a child custody and parenting time order, and these do affect your ability to move long distances. Except in cases where the parents lived far apart before the custody order was entered, if you and your co-parent share joint legal or shared parenting time (most court orders are for joint legal custody) neither parent may move more than 100 miles away from where the child lived at the start of the case, or cross state borders without either the consent of the other party (which still requires entry of an order in advance of the move) or an order from the court. This means that, practically speaking, if you want to move away after a child support order was entered, you should expect to file a motion with the court first to determine a parenting time schedule that takes the new location into consideration, which may alter each party’s overnights and therefore child support.

Does Relocation Affect Child Support?

The act of moving itself is generally not a basis to recalculate child support. The Michigan Child Support Formula does not take cost of living into account in determining support. This is true if you are moving from a rural part of Western Michigan to an expensive suburb outside Detroit, but it also applies if you are moving to a state with a higher cost of living. However, there are some ways that relocation can affect child support.

Most of the time, relocating out of state involves finding a new job. A more favorable employment opportunity may be the reason you want to relocate, or you may be forced to find a job once you have settled into your new housing situation. In these cases, while the relocation itself does not affect child support, your new employment situation could result in a change of circumstances sufficient to recalculate support. Remember that both parents are legally required to notify the Friend of the Court after changing their address or employment. If you are earning substantially more in your new job, failing to report an increase in income to the Friend of the Court can result in retroactively modified child support.

If you move to a state with a higher income tax rate, that will directly affect your net income and therefore the amount available for you to pay support. This may also be true if your new position has mandatory union dues, health insurance contributions, or retirement contributions, those may also affect your support calculations. If those changes add up to at least a 10% change in the recommended custody amount, that can be a basis to modify your child support order.

Can I Still Get Child Support if I Move Away?

In most cases, you can still get child support if you move out of Michigan. You can even seek enforcement or modify your child support orders as a non-resident. However, the process of collecting child support payments does become more complicated in interstate cases. There is no federal system for collecting child support. However, most states have adopted a version of the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA). This law authorizes government offices, called Title IV-D services, to enforce out-of-state custody, parenting time, and child support orders.

If your child support order was entered in Michigan and you are the one who moved out of state, you can still get your child support payments from the Michigan Support Disbursement Unit (MiSDU). Be sure they have your up-to-date address and contact information to avoid any interruption in child support payments.

If you are moving into Michigan and your child support order was entered elsewhere, you can “register” your child support order in Michigan. This is the first step to enforcing or modifying the child support order in the state where you currently reside. However, if one parent still lives in the state where the order was entered may have continuing jurisdiction, so you may need to file any such requests in that state first.

Do I Still Pay Child Support if My Co-Parent Relocated?

The only thing that ends your obligation to pay child support is your child reaching age 18 (or 19½ if still attending school and living with a parent), an adoption, or a family court entering a $0 support order. In some cases, even parents whose rights are terminated continue to have to pay support. This means that you still must pay child support even if you or your co-parent relocated.

The UFISA can also be used to enforce a child support order against a parent who owes support but has relocated to another state. It allows the state agencies involved in collecting child support payments in both states to communicate and coordinate in the entry of Income Withholding Orders (IWOs), enforcement proceedings, and even criminal non-support actions.

At NSSSB, we are proud to serve as child support lawyers for parents in Michigan. We can help you register, enforce, and modify child support orders when you or your co-parent relocate out of state. Click here to schedule a consultation with a Southeast Michigan family law attorney at one of our offices in Ann Arbor or Bloomfield Hills.

Categories: Child Support