A support order is any order entered by the family division that requires the payment of support.
Support may include:
- Child support
- Spousal support
- Payment of medical, dental, and other health care
- Payment of confinement expenses (these are the mother's costs related to the birth)
- Payment of childcare expenses
Child Support Formula
Michigan law requires that the child support formula be used to determine child support amounts. A different amount may be used if the judge or referee states the amount required by the formula and a clear reason in writing or on the record why using the formula is "unjust or inappropriate." The formula, and the guideline computer program for calculating support, may be found at www.courts.michigan.gov/scao.
Unless otherwise ordered, the support is paid through the State Disbursement Unit (SDU). More information on the SDU may be found at www.misdu.com. When support received by the SDU sufficiently identifies to whom the support should be paid, it must be forwarded to the recipient within two business days of receipt. Support is normally paid through income withholding. Do not send cash through the mail. The Saginaw County Friend of the Court Office allows support payments to be made by credit card. If you pay by credit card, you must call 1-888-604-7888 (toll free, 24 hours) to access this service instead of charging the support at the Friend of the Court Office. A 5% fee will be charged to your credit card account for using this method of payment.
Persons who are entitled to receive support may have their checks deposited into their bank accounts by completing an Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) Application. This form is available by contacting the IVR and under the "Forms" section of this website.
Statutory Service Fees
Michigan law requires the Friend of the Court to charge the payer of support a fee for all support cases. The current fee is $42 per year.
Automatic Support Enforcement
The Friend of the Court will begin enforcement action when past due support reaches an amount equal to 8 weeks of support. This may be done without waiting for a complaint or request for enforcement. If you believe that the support on your case is 8 weeks behind, you may fill out a request for enforcement (see forms page) and send it to your Support Specialist at the Friend of the Court. Your Support Specialist will then determine if your case is eligible for enforcement. If the case is eligible, a settlement conference will be set which you will get notice of. If it is not eligible, you will receive a call or a letter from your Support Specialist stating the reason enforcement cannot commence.
Enforcement of Support
The Friend of the Court has many options available to collect support, they include:
- Immediate Income Withholding: Support orders entered after December 31, 1990 must provide for immediate income withholding. Income withholding tells the payer's employer or other source of income to withhold support and send it to the State Disbursement Unit. In addition to current support, the notice will also instruct that fees and an arrearage amount be withheld and sent. The Friend of the Court may increase the amount to be collected for arrearage if a payer's arrearage increases.
- 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 by filing a petition and scheduling a show cause hearing. An appointment will first be set with a Hearing Officer in the Friend of the Court Office to try and settle the case if possible before going before the Judge. If the payer fails to appear, a bench warrant will be issued for his/her arrest. At a show cause hearing or bench warrant arraignment, the payer may be sentenced to jail or Work Detail and usually is required to make a lump sum payment.
- Income Tax Intercept: If support is overdue, the Friend of the Court must represent an income tax intercept for the cases that qualify under the federal IV-D program.
In such cases, a tax refund due to the payer of support is sent to the Friend of the Court and applied to past due support for minor children as required by law (support owed to the State of Michigan must be paid first).
- Other Enforcement Remedies, Including Suspension of Drivers License: Several other enforcement remedies exist. If the payer's arrearage is sufficiently large, the payer's driver's license may be suspended. In addition, the Friend of the Court may be able to place a lien on the payer's real and personal property, and have that property converted to a support payment.
- Medical Enforcement: Enforcement of health care insurance and uninsured health care expenses, as specified in your support order, will be done by a medical team at the Saginaw County Friend of the Court Office. This team is referred to as the Medical Enforcement Division. You may contact the Medical Enforcement Division by submitting your questions or requests in writing. More information and forms for medical enforcement are available in the second floor lobby of the Friend of the Court office and under the "Forms" section of this website.
Modifications of a Support Order
The Friend of the Court Office will review child support orders once every 3 years upon written request.
- Support Modification Actions Started by Parties: A party may file his or her own petition to change a support order. Petitions and instructions for changing support are located in the second floor lobby of the Friend of Court Office and under the "Forms" section of this website. If both parties agree to change the support order, the Friend of the Court will put the agreement in the form of an order to be signed by the judge. Regardless of how the modification process is started, parties will be expected to submit financial information and attend a referee hearing if no agreement can be reached on a new support amount.
- Non-Retroactive Modification of Support: Once child support is ordered, it generally cannot be changed after it is due and payable. If your financial situation changes, you should immediately file a petition to change the support amount. The court may adjust the support amount back to the date that the petition was filed. Simply notifying the Friend of the Court of a change in either party's financial situation does not change the court order.
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Support
What happens if my support check was issued (mailed) but I never received it?
You must contact the MiSDU and they will investigate the matter.
The other party is not paying support as ordered. What can I do?
Contact the Friend of the Court for enforcement. You may also contact an attorney to start enforcement action.
My court order states that 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. If you fail to get the order changed you may not receive credit for the payment.
If I am receiving public assistance (TANF or FIP) do I still get child support?
No, The Friend of the Court must send to the state any child support payments made while you are on public assistance.
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.
If I have been paying my child support and the custodial parenting is not allowing parenting time, do I have to keep paying support?
Yes. Parenting time and support are separate parts of a court order. Each has special enforcement procedures which must be used when that part of the order is disobeyed.
The other party has stopped paying support and has moved to another state. What can be done to enforce my support order?
If a support payer leaves Michigan and support payments are not timely, or stop altogether, there are laws to assure that payments are made. Each state now has a law called the "Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA)." UIFSA assists states in dealing with cases where a party or source of income is in another state. It replaces other interstate child support laws. Under UIFSA, only one state has the right to establish or modify support. This right can be given to another state only if certain conditions are met. UIFSA became effective in Michigan on June 1, 1997. Some of the procedures available under UIFSA include interstate income withholding, registration of the order in the other state for enforcement, and registration of the order in the other state for modification.
I am incarcerated, do I have to pay child support?
Payers of support are not eligable to receive retroactive child support waiver/credit for times they are incarcerated. Pursuant to MCL 552.603(2), retroactive modification of support is prohibited. See also McLaughlin v McLaughlin, 255 Mich App 475 (2003) for an interpretation of this statute pertaining to incarceration. If a client is incarcerated, he/she must advise the Friend of the Court of their incarceration in writing and request a zero support order while they are incarcerated. Failure to advise the Friend of the Court during the period of incarceration will result in child support continuing to charge. The Friend of the Court will not complete any requests to retroactively modify support for past dates of incarceration.