Child Support Information
A support order is any order entered by the circuit court which requires the payment of support. A support order may include:
- Child support
- Spousal support
- Payment of medical, dental and other health care expenses
- Payment of child care expenses
- Payment of educational expenses
The Friend of the Court may request you to sign a document for Federal reporting purposes, which is an application of Friend of the Court services.
How do I get an order for child support? A petition asking the court to order child support must be filed with the court clerk. If both parties agree to establish support at the amount shown by the formula, they may sign an agreement (stipulation). Once that agreement is put in the form of an order, signed by the judge and filed with the court clerk, it will become an order of support.
Do I need an attorney to get an order for support?
You are not required to have an attorney to file a petition for support. An attorney may be helpful when filing papers and following specific rules.
Do the Friend of the Court and the judge have to use the child support formula?
Yes. A different amount may be used when there is clear reason in writing or on the record why using the formula is unfair or improper.
The other parent is not paying support as ordered. What can I do?
Contact the Friend of the Court for enforcement if support equals one month overdue. You may also contact an attorney to start enforcement action.
My court order states I am to pay support through the Friend of the Court. Can I pay the other parent directly?
No. Not without a change in your court order and having that order filed with a court clerk. If you fail to do so you might not receive credit for the payment
If I am receiving public assistance (TANF), do I still get child support?
No. The Friend of the Court must send any child support payments made, while you are on TANF, to the State. If you have questions regarding this program, contact your Department of Human Services Support Specialist.
Is the Friend of the Court responsible for making sure that child support money is being spent on the children?
No. The law does not give anyone the authority to verify how child support payments are being spent.
How is child support determined?
Michigan law requires that the child support formula be used by the Friend of the Court or Prosecuting Attorneys when recommending, and by judges when ordering, child support amounts. The Friend of the Court’s recommendation and the judge’s determination can only vary from the formula when there is clear reason, either in writing or on the court record, stating why use of the formula would be unfair or improper. In Michigan, the child support formula considers both parents’ incomes when establishing or changing support. To purchase a copy of the Michigan Child Support Formula Manual, send your request, along with a check or money order for $5.00 payable to the “State of Michigan” to: Department of Management and Budget Office Services Division Publications Section P.O. Box 30026 Lansing MI 48909. The manual is also available at your local library.
Support Investigations and Reports
The Friend of the Court may be required to periodically review child support, including health care provisions and petition the court for a change in the order if a change is warranted. Otherwise, when directed by the judge, the Friend of the Court will conduct a financial investigation and make a written report and recommendation to the parties (or his/her attorneys) and the judge regarding child support. Friend of the Court reports cannot be used as evidence in court without the agreement of both parties. The Friend of the Court investigator may be called as a witness to testify about their report.
The Friend of the Court has many enforcement remedies available to collect support. They include:
- Immediate Income Withholding: Income withholding directs the payer’s employer or other source of income to withhold support and send it to the Friend of the Court.
- Contempt of Court (Show Cause) Hearing: If support is not paid on time, the Friend of the Court or a party may begin a contempt action (known as a “show cause” hearing), by filing papers requiring the payer to appear in court.
- Income Tax Intercept: If support is overdue, the Friend of the Court must request an income tax intercept for cases that qualify under the Federal IV-D program. (In such cases, a tax refund due the payer of support is sent to the Friend of the Court and applied to past due support for minor children. If there is any child support due a state, the income tax intercept must first be applied to this unpaid amount.)
- License Suspension: For payers with an arrearage of two or more months of support, the Friend of the Court may initiate action to have occupational or drivers’ licenses suspended. A payer can avoid a license suspension by showing that there is a mistake regarding the amount of the arrearage or entering into an agreement accepted by the court for the payment of the arrearage.
- Consumer Reporting: The Friend of the Court must report to a consumer reporting agency the arrearage amount for each payer with two or more months of support arrearage. Lenders will often obtain a credit report from a consumer reporting agency when deciding whether to extend credit. If the credit report shows a history of untimely support payments or a large arrearage, the report may result in a denial of a loan or other credit. The Friend of the Court may also make support information available to a consumer reporting agency if requested by the support payer.
- Liens: A claim against real or personal property.
- Cash Bonds: A payment of a specific amount of money to guarantee future support payments will be made. In some cases, the Friend of the Court may be able to obtain a lien or cash bond on a payer’s real or personal property.