What is a "support order"?
A support order means any order entered by the Circuit Court which requires the payment of money for child support, medical, dental and other health care expenses, child care expenses, and educational expenses.
How do I get a court order regarding child support?
A petition requesting an Order of Support must be filed in the Circuit Court. If both parties (and the Judge) agree on the amount, an order can be quickly entered. If the parties cannot agree, you can consult with a private lawyer, or contact your County OCS's Support Specialist at 1-866-540-0008 for free help. (You do not have to be on public assistance to seek help from the Support Specialist.) The DHS/OCS can refer a support case to the Prosecuting Attorney, who can file an action in Circuit Court under the Family Support Act.
Once the support order has been entered, if the parents get back together and decide to end the family support order, they must contact their private lawyer or the Friend of the Court to stop the support order. It is not sufficient to just notify a Department of Human Service case worker.
How is child support determined?
Child support is set by a formula in the Michigan Child Support Guidelines. This formula considers both parents' income, the number of children and their custodial arrangements. The baby's medical costs may also be included in the child support order. You may get a copy of the Michigan Child Support Guidelines by contacting:
Department of Management and Budget
Office Services Division / Publications Section
7461 Crowner Drive
Lansing, MI 48913
Telephone: (517) 322-1899
Will the Prosecutor help me collect child support?
No. The Friend of the Court is responsible for enforcing payment orders and collecting delinquencies (although you may also hire a private attorney to file an enforcement action). Under certain circumstances the Friend of the Court may refer a case to the Prosecuting Attorney's office for charging of criminal non-support. If you wish that to occur, you should write to your FOC caseworker asking that they consider the referral.
The parent responsible for paying support has stopped paying. What can be done?
The Friend of the Court is responsible for enforcing payment orders and collecting delinquencies (although you may also hire a private attorney to file an enforcement action). There are several options: income withholding orders, show cause hearings (civil contempt hearings held with the Court that issued the support order), tax refund intercepts, and liens on the payor's property are the most common methods used.
NOTE: Parenting time and support orders are separate orders of the Court, with separate enforcement procedures. If you are not being paid the support monies to which you believe you are entitled, you may not withhold parenting time from the delinquent parent.
I cannot find the non-paying parent. Are there free Internet sites that may assist my search?
Yes! The Michigan Department of Human Services' web site has a good list of parent locator services.
The parent responsible for paying support has moved to another state. What do I do?
The parent responsible for paying child support must continue to pay support through the Friend of the Court, even if he or she leaves the State of Michigan. If child support payments stop, the parent who is owed the money has several options:
I have a support case and I want information about payments and enforcement of the payments. Where do I go?
- Contact a private lawyer or the Department of Humans Services' Office of Child Support (1-866-540-0008) to request an action under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA); a UIFSA order establishes a support order in the state where the non-custodial parent lives. Bring copies of all court orders involving the parents, plus the full name, date of birth, social security number, and last known address of the person who owes support money. The OCS will send a referral to the Friend of the Court to start a UIFSA action. If the missing parent's whereabouts are unknown, the OCS or the Friend of the Court may be able to help find him or her. Once the state in which the non-custodial parent lives enters its support order, authorities in that state are responsible for its enforcement. Each state has control within its own borders, and a support order established in the other state under UIFSA does not affect the amount owed under the Michigan order. A delinquent payor who returns to Michigan can be brought before a Michigan court for failure to pay under the Michigan order.
- Register the Michigan order in the other state where the paying parent lives. (The Friend of the Court or a private lawyer can help do this.) Once registered, it becomes an order of that state's court, and is enforced by that other state. [NOTE: In some states, registering the support order requires registering the custody and visitation orders, which will give the other state's court the power to change the terms of the support, custody or visitation orders, if asked.]
- Request the Friend of the Court to arrange for the Michigan court to send an interstate income withholding order, if the name and address of the payer's source of income are known. The Friend of the Court can then begin an interstate income withholding action.
The State of Michigan has a website that allows you to check your case information. Go here and set up a login.
You may also go here to view payments and other information on your current child support court case