Child support is ordered against a parent whose child is living with the other parent, or is living in foster care (where the state is providing medical coverage, etc.). If the state paid for birthing expenses, the father's support order will include a prorated figure to reimburse the state. The support order will specify the monthly support figure, and each parent's responsibility for medical insurance or uninsured medical expenses.
How to Get a Child Support Order
A petition requesting an Order of Support must be filed in the Circuit Court where either parent lives. 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 apply online under the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) IV-D services. You do not have to be on public assistance to seek this kind of help. DHHS will refer the support case to the Prosecuting Attorney, who can file an action in Circuit Court under the Family Support Act. Contact: Michigan Office of Child Support, Central Functions Unit, P.O. Box 30744, Lansing, MI 48909; Phone: 866-540-0008; Alternate Phone: 866-661-0005.
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 Health and Human Services (DHHS) case worker.
How Child Support is Determined
Child support is set by a formula in the Michigan Child Support Guidelines. (See the 'Child Support Resources' section below.) The formula considers both parents' income, the number of children and their custodial arrangements, other child support payments, etc. But every-day financial responsibilities like rent/mortgages, utilities, credit card debts, etc. are not factored in. The child's medical costs may also be included in the child support order. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) MiChildSupport website has a free Child Support Calculator to help you estimate what will be ordered.
The Prosecutor's office is involved until the initial child support order is entered, or an order is entered for the Friend of the Court to investigate unresolved issues of custody, parenting time, or child support). After that order is entered, 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). Child support is generally collected through income-withholding from the parent's paycheck. If the person is self- or un-employed, payment must be made personally.
We can file a case for paternity and/or child support even if the absent parent lives in another state. In some cases, when that party is a former Michigan resident or other factors exist, we may still be able to file a case in our county.
If there are not sufficient ties to the state of Michigan, an action is filed here under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA). The papers are prepared in our office, filed with our court and forwarded to the state where the absent parent resides. The final court Order must be obtained in the other state. We cannot control how long the other state will take to obtain an Order. We will monitor the other state's efforts on a regular basis and contact you if additional information is required.
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). The most common methods used are income withholding orders, show cause hearings (civil contempt hearings held with the Judge who issued the support order), tax refund intercepts, and liens on the payer's property.
Note: 'Parenting Time' and 'Support' orders have different enforcement procedures. If you are not being paid the support monies to which you believe you are entitled, you may not withhold parenting time ("visitation") from the delinquent parent.
Finding the Non-Paying Parent: The Office of Child Support, the Prosecuting Attorney's office child support specialist, and the Friend of the Court have resources to locate people. But any information that the custodial parent has is accepted. Some helpful information that you can provide us is found on the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) web page.
Parents Who Move Out-of-state: The parent responsible for paying child support must continue to pay support through the Friend of the Court (FOC) after they leave the State of Michigan. If child support payments stop, the parent who is owed the money has several options:
- Contact a private lawyer.
- 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 other state's court, and is enforced by that other state. (Note: In some states, registering the support order requires registering both the custody and visitation orders, which gives 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 issue an interstate income withholding order, if the name and address of the payer's source of income are known. The FOC can then begin an interstate income withholding action.