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How does Michigan help you enforce unpaid child support orders?

As the primary custodial parent, you collect child support from your ex as a way to offset the various expenses involved in providing for your children. Unfortunately, bitter ex-spouses can sometimes go to extreme lengths to avoid fulfilling their child support obligations.

Parents paying child support may claim that the amount ordered is unfair, even though the state of Michigan makes every effort to assess reasonable and appropriate levels of support based on the needs of the children and the income of both parents. Avoiding child support could mean quitting a job or even refusing to work. Some people might believe that if they don't have income, they don't have an obligation to their children.

Thankfully, the state of Michigan will not let a parent get away with avoiding their child support responsibilities indefinitely. If you have attempted to resolve the issue with your ex or if you haven't received your support in several months, you may want to ask the state of Michigan to step up and enforce their court order.

The Friend of the Court manages child support in Michigan

When the Michigan family courts initially enter an order of child support, it is the Friend of the Court who calculates the amount of support and then manages the arrangements for collecting and disbursing that support. In the event that your ex isn't paying support, you must ask the Friend of the Court to enforce the child support order.

They have the authority to take several steps to encourage or even force your ex to make their payments to your child. Income withholding is the simplest and most straightforward way to collect and pay child support. It is a fully automated process, wherein the Friend of the Court contacts the employer and automatically deducts the child support amount from their check before their employer issues it to them.

If the state can locate a place of employment on someone not currently paying support, they can withhold part of that individual's wages until they make up the missed child support. Of course, if someone avoids standard employment, then other steps may be necessary.

What are other enforcement options for Michigan child support?

If standard withholding from a paycheck simply isn't an option in your case, the Friend of the Court can take other steps. They can intercept a federal or state text return if the amount of past-due support exceeds a certain amount. Families that don't receive state benefits need to have accrued $500 in unpaid child support, while custodial parents to receive cash benefits from the state of Michigan can ask for the interception of tax funds when the amount of unpaid support reaches $150.

Of course, if someone goes without a job for multiple years to avoid child support, they may not have a tax return coming their way either. In that situation, the Friend of the Court can ask the courts to issue a bench warrant or order the non-paying parent to attend a show cause hearing. The Friend of the Court can also record a lien against real estate or a levy against other valuable property.

Even the loss of recreational, professional and driver's licenses can be part of an enforcement effort. In extreme cases, the state may report the delinquent payments to credit monitoring bureaus, suspend someone's passport or refuse an application for a new passport. It is even possible for the state to take funds from a private pension account for past-due child support.

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Lorrie J. Zahodnic

"I will hold you up until you can stand on your own two feet."

Lorrie J. Zahodnic, P.C. has provided skilled and compassionate legal guidance to Michiganders in family law matters for over 20 years.

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