What is child support?
Child support is money a parent pays to help meet his/her child’s needs when the parent is not living with the child. The court orders the support. Support may include payment of the expenses of medical, dental, and other health care, child care expenses, and educational expenses.
The support may be part of a court order in a:
- Paternity action.
- Child custody action.
- Family support action.
- Interstate action.
Parents or custodians who want help in establishing or collecting child support may apply for IV-D child support services.
Starting a Child Support Action: Divorce
After a Complaint for Divorce has been filed, a party who has a minor child living with them, may seek to establish a Temporary Order for Support until the final Judgment of Divorce has been entered.
If there is an attorney representing one or both of the parties, a hearing is scheduled and a Temporary Order for support may be entered.
If neither party is represented by an attorney, the Office of Friend of the Court will assist parties in obtaining a Temporary Order at the time of Conciliation Conference.
Support Investigations and Reports
If ordered by the court, the Friend of the Court will conduct a financial investigation and make a written report and recommendation to the parties and the court regarding child support. Friend of the Court reports cannot be used as evidence in court without the agreement of both parties. However, the Friend of the Court Family Evaluator may be called to testify about their report and recommendation.
Starting a Child Support Action: Paternity or Domestic Relations Action
A party who is separated from his or her spouse with no divorce pending and who has a minor child living with them, may seek to establish a family support order under the Family Support Act (this is referred to as an Order of Support). Generally, family support actions are referred by the Department of Human Services to the Prosecuting Attorney's office. The Department of Human Services makes referrals whether or not a party receives public assistance. In addition, a party can contact a private attorney to file an action.
If you are a mother or father of a minor child, or have responsibility for the care of a minor child, you can apply for child support services through the Office of Child Support. There are two toll-free numbers you can call to start the application for services, or to ask for general child support information: 1-866-540-0008 or 1-866-661-0005
What if I am receiving public assistance?
Your DHS specialist will refer you for child support services when all of the following apply:
- You are receiving public assistance (including cash assistance, food assistance, child day care or Medicaid).
- You have a minor child in your home.
- One or both of the parents do not live with the child. You will receive a letter about the child support program from a child support specialist. You must contact the support specialist when you receive the letter. To continue receiving your full public assistance benefits, you must work with the Office of Child Support, the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, and the Friend of the Court.
If I receive public assistance, will I still get my child support payments?
If you are a custodial party who is receiving public assistance, some or all of your child support may be sent (assigned) to the state to pay back some of the money the state provides to you and the child(ren). The child support office will provide you with information about your specific situation.
Medical support payments for children receiving Medicaid benefits will be sent (assigned) to the Michigan Department of Community Health.
If the total support collected is more than your cash benefits for at least two months, DHS may close your FIP case so you can receive the child support payments directly.
How is the amount of child support determined?
In Michigan, the amount of child support is determined using the guidelines established by the
Supreme Court. Child support guidelines are based on the monthly net income of both parents.
The court reviews child support agreements to make sure the guidelines are applied correctly and the child support amount is appropriate. In some cases, the court may decide not to use the income guidelines to determine the amount of child support.
For more information, see the Michigan Child Support Formula Manual available from the State Court Administrative Office (SCAO), or on the SCAO Web site at: www.courts.mi.gov/scao/services/focb/mcsf.htm
What happens when one parent does not live in Michigan?
The most difficult cases to enforce are those in which the non-custodial parent lives in one state and the child and custodial party live in another. However, all states must provide child support services regardless of where the other parent lives. For example, when a custodial party lives in another state, Michigan collects child support from the non-custodial parent and sends the support to the other state. Federal law requires states to work together to establish and enforce a child support order. This is also known as UIFSA. State child support agencies must help each other in handling requests for assistance.
If the parent required to pay support leaves the State of Michigan, s/he must continue to pay support through the Friend of the Court.
If the child support payments stop, the parent receiving support may contact the Office of Friend of the Court and request Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) action.
Once the state in which the non-custodial parent lives registers the Michigan support order, authorities in that state are responsible for its enforcement. Each state has control within its own boundaries. A delinquent payer who returns to Michigan can be brought before the court for failure to pay under the Michigan order.
What is a surcharge?
Surcharge is another way in which support arrears accrue. Surcharge is assessed January 1 and July 1 of each year. Surcharge is not interest; however, it is calculated as a percentage, and is assessed on the amount of eligible arrears.
Need more information?
If you would like more information about the child support program in Michigan, you may call:
1-866-540-0008 or 1-866-661-0005.
Automatic Support Enforcement
The Friend of the Court automated enforcement system (MiCSES) will automatically begin enforcement action against a parent paying support whose back support is in an amount equal to four weeks of support. This is to be done without waiting for a complaint or request for enforcement from the person receiving support.
If both parties want to temporarily stop the Friend of the Court from automatically enforcing the support order, they must file a joint written request with the Friend of the Court. If the custodial parent is currently receiving public assistance or there is money owed to the Department of Human Services, the parties cannot stop support or enforcement action.
Enforcement of Support
The Friend of the Court has many options available to enforce support orders. These options include:
INCOME WITHHOLDING: All payers are subject to income withholding unless otherwise ordered by the court. Past due support is assessed a surcharge pursuant to the Paternity act, 1956 PA205, MCL 722.711 to 722.730.
CREDIT REPORTING: If your arrearage exceeds two months’ obligation, it can be reported to credit reporting agencies unless you pay the entire arrearage or request a hearing within 21 days after the date you are notified of the proposed credit reporting.
LICENSE SUSPENSION: If your arrearage exceeds six months’ obligation, your driver’s, occupation, sporting and recreational licenses may be suspended unless you arrange a suitable payment plan or request a hearing within 21 days after you are notified of the proposed suspension.
COURT HEARINGS: The Friend of the Court may petition the court for an order to show cause which will require you to appear before the court and show cause why you should not be held in contempt. If you fail to appear for the hearing on the show cause, the court may issue a bench warrant for your arrest and may assess costs against you.
LIENS: Liens exist by operation of law against your real and personal property, including accounts with financial institutions. If your arrearage exceeds the amount of periodic support payments payable for 2 months under your support order, your real or personal property can be encumbered or seized.
TAX OFFSET: When your arrearage equals $150.00, your tax refund may be taken and used to pay part of your arrearage.
PASSPORT DENIAL: When your arrearage equals $5,000.00, your passport can be denied or revoked.
PUBLICATION: Your name and arrearage can be published or posted on the Internet.
FELONY WARRANT: Federal and Michigan criminal laws provide that, under certain conditions, it is a felony to fail to pay support.
Modifications of a Support Order
The Friend of the Court is required by state law to review child support orders as follows:
1. Not less than once every three years if the children for whom support is being paid are receiving public assistance.
2. When on its own finding or initiative, the Friend of the Court office determines that the amount of the child support order should be changed.
3. Upon a written request from a party, no more than once every three years. The office will schedule a child support review hearing with the Referee and notice will be sent to all parties and attorneys associated with the case. If the office finds that an increase or decrease is appropriate, a modified child support order will be entered within 180 days from the date of the hearing. If a party does not agree with the Referee’s recommendation, a written objection must be submitted within 21 days from the date of mailing as provided in the recommended order.
When a support order is/or will be entered through the Court system, the order will be payable through the Michigan State Disbursement Unit (MiSDU). The court order number (docket number), Social Security Number, full name and county number must accompany your payment. Checks should be made payable to: MiSDU and mailed to PO Box 30351, Lansing, MI 48909-7851.
PAYMENTS MADE THROUGH INCOME WITHHOLDING: Pursuant to statute, Notice of Income Withholding is entered immediately upon entry of the Support Order. However, the payer is responsible for making support payments on their own through the MiSDU until support payments are deducted from payer's wages
Direct payments made to the client after an order of Support has been entered are considered a gift. Support payments cannot be made directly to a recipient of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF).
Payment information is available through the IVR (interactive voice response) system by dialing 989-832-6801 and selecting #1. The IVR is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week or via mi-case at www.michigan.gov/micase
Abatement of Support
Your Court Order may provide that the payer of support receive a 50% abatement (credit) of the child support obligation each time after the child(ren) spend 6 or more consecutive overnight periods with the payer pursuant to the payer's parenting time rights.
Abatements can only be entered after the parenting time has occurred. Credit cannot be applied either prior to or during parenting time.
An abatement is only calculated on child support, abatements cannot be credited for child care or medical support. All parenting time credits are entered and applied directly to the child support account as a credit. If an applied credit results in an overpayment of the account, the overpaid amount will be refunded to the Payer after current support has been satisfied.
For purposes of calculating an abatement during extended parenting time, parenting time exercised by the custodial parent that does not exceed 6 consecutive overnights will not interrupt the calculation of the abatement.
It is the responsibility of both parents to notify the Office of Friend of the Court when parenting times occur. Requests for parenting time credits must be made in writing to the Office of Friend of the Court within 60 days after the parenting time.
Objections or questions regarding a credit must be made in writing to the Office of Friend of the Court within 14 days of confirmation of the credit. Objections may be scheduled for a hearing before the Referee of the Office of Friend of the Court. A notice of hearing will be sent to both parties if an objection hearing is scheduled.
The Friend of the Court, unless otherwise ordered by the court, has the responsibility to collect and forward child and spousal support to the payee.
Policy Regarding Statements of Account & Audits-Account errors
MCL 552.509(2) The office shall provide annually to each party, without charge, 1 statement of account upon request. Additional statements of account shall be provided at the rate of $1.00 per page. Statements provided under this subsection are in addition to statements provided for administrative and judicial hearings.
To request a statement of account or payment history, call or write Office of the Midland County Friend of the Court.
If questions arise or there is the possibility of an error regarding the payment history, they should be listed on the payment history copy provided to you.
- Describe the error in question.
- Where you think the error occurred.
- Why you believe there is an error.
- Explain what additional information you require.
Return a copy to Office of Midland County Friend of the Court, 301 W. Main St., Midland, Michigan 48640. Upon receipt of your request, the Office of Midland County Friend of the Court will review your account in a timely manner.
Payers of support who have reason to believe that their employer is not forwarding the money or has missed sending a payment to the MiSDU, should contact his/her payroll department regarding the missing payment(s). If an error on the account is discovered, the employer should immediately contact the Support Enforcement Officer at the Office of Midland County Friend of the Court. Every effort will be made to correct any errors and to resolve any disagreements.