Child Support Reviews and Modifications
All orders of the court are entered according to “the best interest of the child.” As children grow and situations change, the order will need modification to meet the changing needs of the child. It is not unusual for parents to modify a court order several times while they have a Friend of Court case.
The FOC will initiate a support review free of charge every three years. Meanwhile, if there has been a substantial change of circumstances, either party may submit a written request for a review. If you’re not eligible for a free review, you will receive a motion packet. You may also hire an attorney of your choice or use your own resources or Free Legal Help to represent yourself. Support reviews will also be initiated when the child or custodial parent begins receiving public assistance including Medicaid, cash assistance and/or food assistance.
To request a support review without the use of an attorney, please read the General Instructions to Modify a Child Support Order and submit a written request.
The Child Support Formula uses common factors to determine the amount of support, such as:
- All sources of income for parties
- The number of children in the case
- Federal, State, Local and Social Security taxes
- Union dues
- Medical premiums for minor children
- Other minor children
The Guideline does not consider “outside bills” such as mortgage/rent, car payments, utilities, etc.
The laws requires the courts to use the formula guideline when setting or modifying child support obligations. If the parties agree and are not on state assistance, they can agree to a deviation from the guidelines under certain circumstances.
A public version of the child support calculator is available at https://micase.state.mi.us/.
When Does Support Go Into Effect?
Following the support review, a recommended Uniform Child Support Order (USO) will be mailed to both parties. This is your opportunity to review the order and make sure that you agree with it; be sure to read it thoroughly. If one of the parties doesn’t agree with the order, they must submit a written objection to the FOC before the objection period ends, stating specifically why they object to the order. At that time, a hearing will be scheduled and both parties will be notified of the hearing date by mail, at the address we have on file. After the judge signs the support order, your account will begin charging on the effective date listed on your USO.
Payments through Income Withholding and Other Means
Michigan law provides for payments to be made through payroll deduction (income withholding). When there is a change to the support order, an Income Withholding Notice (IWN) will be sent to your source of income. They will enter the support amount in their payroll system and submit payments to the MISDU. From there, payments are disbursed to the custodial parent.
Typically, it takes four to six weeks for the IWN to become active and begin sending support payments to the MISDU. During that time, it is the payer’s responsibility to make payments with cash or money order at the FOC office, or by using the various payment options on MISDU.
PLEASE NOTE: Payments given directly to the other parent could be considered a gift and your FOC account may not be properly credited for such payments. If you have questions or concerns about direct payments, please contact the Accounting Department at the FOC office.
Payees will receive a paper check in the mail for their first payment. You have the option of setting up direct deposit or receive payments on a child support debit card. This debit card will be automatically mailed to you unless you set up direct deposit.
Child Support Enforcement
Non-payment of support becomes enforceable when a balance of two months or more is owing. There are two types of enforcement:
Automated Enforcement: initiated automatically by the MICSES computer system. These actions include:
- Income Withholding Notice (IWN): The State of Michigan requires that child support be withheld from any source of income and mailed directly to the MISDU.
- National Medical Support Notice (NMSN): If your order states that you must provide medical insurance, your employer will automatically be sent a National Medical Support Notice. If the cost of insurance exceeds 6% of your gross income or a specified amount stated in your court order, you are not required to carry insurance. Please read this carefully in your order.
- Credit Bureau Reporting: Payers become eligible for credit reporting when a balance equal to or greater than two months of current support is owing.
- State and Federal Tax Offset: Payers become eligible for Michigan Department of Treasury tax offset with a balance (arrears) of $150.00 and for IRS tax offset with a balance (arrears) of $500.00.
- Financial Institution Data Match (FIDM): When your balance (arrears) meets the criteria, the Centralized Enforcement Unit in Lansing will initiate a lien on your bank account (freeze your account). The local Friend of Court office cannot unfreeze your account; you must call 517-241-8507 to resolve the lien.
- Passport Denial: When your balance (arrears) reaches $2,500.00 you are eligible for passport denial. When this occurs, you must pay the full balance due to resolve the denial.
Manual Enforcement: initiated by an FOC enforcement worker. These actions include:
- Show Cause: Prior to initiating show cause, the Caseworker will attempt to contact the payer by phone and/or by mail in an effort to resolve the issue of non-payment. If no contact is made, the Caseworker will set an appointment with the payer, at which time the two will discuss issues that are preventing payment. They will set goals for employment, transportation and other needs, and determine the steps needed to achieve those goals.
- If the payer does not appear for the appointment, a hearing will be set with the Judge and Enforcement Officer present. Contempt of Court charges may result and the Judge may issue a bench warrant or order jail time and/or other sanctions.
- License Suspension: The FOC has the authority to suspend driver, occupational, recreational, and sporting licenses (hunting and fishing). If your case is eligible for license suspension, you will be notified by mail and given 21 days to request a hearing or to pay the balance in full. Once a license is suspended, there are fees that must be paid to the county clerk and to the licensing agency (such as Secretary of State) in addition to paying the full balance, to resolve the issue.
- Inter-governmental: This process allows the FOC to request the assistance of another child support agency in a different state or country in which the payer resides, to enforce a child support order. The other state can then impose sanctions under their laws and policies to assist in collecting child support.
- Felony Non-Support: The Michigan Attorney General (AG) has the authority to pursue criminal charges for nonpayment of support. When the AG issues a felony warrant for the payer’s arrest, they are able to extradite the parent across state lines to Barry County for the proceedings. If you have questions pertaining to felony non-support, please contact the Attorney General office at (517) 373-1111.
- Medical Insurance and Uninsured Expenses: Your Uniform Child Support Order should specify which parent (or both parties) is responsible for providing medical insurance and how the uninsured portion of medical expenses are to split by each party.
Child Support Charges During Incarceration
Upon notification of incarceration or release from incarceration after a criminal conviction and sentencing to a term of more than one year, the FOC shall initiate a review of the support order. (MCL552.517)