A support order is any order entered by the family division which requires the payment of support.
Support may include:
- Child support
- Spousal support
- Payment of confinement expenses (these are the mother’s costs related to the birth)
- Payment of child care expenses
- Payment of educational expenses
- Payment of medical, dental, and other health care
- Payment of educational expenses
The Friend of the Court is required to periodically review an order’s child support provisions, including health care. The Friend of the Court will ask the court to modify the order if a change is warranted (see Modification of a Support Order). As part of this periodic support review, the Friend of the Court may request information from a parent’s employer. That includes things like the parent’s address, social security number, date of birth, earnings, and the details of any dependent health care coverage that is available as a benefit of employment. If a court so directs, the Friend of the Court will, in addition to the periodic reviews summarized above, evaluate the current order’s support provisions and submit a written report and recommendation to the parents (or their attorneys) and the judge.
Child Support Formula
Michigan law requires a standard child support formula to be used to determine how much child support a parent must pay. That standard formula considers the parents’ incomes, how many children they have, and other factors. The court may set a support amount that differs from the formula number, but only if the judge explains in writing or during a court hearing why the formula number is “unjust or inappropriate”.
Unless otherwise ordered, support is paid through the Friend of the Court or the State Disbursement Unit (SDU). Payments may be mailed to Michigan SDU, P.O. Box 30351, Lansing, MI 48909.
♥ Related Form: Direct Deposit Authorization Form
Statutory Service Fees
Michigan law requires the Friend of the Court to charge the payer of support a fee for all child support cases. The current fee is $42 per year.
Surcharge on Overdue Support
Surcharges are added on January 1 and July 1 each year. The surcharge equals the average interest rate on money judgments, plus one percent. If the support payer has paid 90 percent or more of the support that was due in the previous six months, no surcharge will be assessed. The court can also order that no surcharge be assessed, but a motion must be filed first.
Automatic Support Enforcement
When support payments are more than one month past due, the Friend of the Court must begin enforcement action without waiting for a request for enforcement.
The Friend of the Court has several methods of collecting past due support. They include:
- Immediate Income Withholding
The payer can object to the adjustment after receiving the notice of arrearage.
Most support orders entered or changed after December 31, 1990, must provide for income withholding even without a showing that the support payer has missed payments or is likely to do so. A judge who does not want to require income withholding must find “good cause” for departing from the general rule. Good cause exists when all of the following exist:
Δ The court makes a specific written finding that income withholding is not in the best interests of the child.
Δ All previously ordered support has been paid on time.
Δ OR; Both parties and the court agree that income withholding will not take effect immediately because a satisfactory alternative payment arrangement has been made. Even in this situation, the payer must keep the Friend of the Court informed of the name, address, and telephone number of his/her current source of income, and about any health care coverage offered by the payer’s employer or coverage that the payer purchases directly from a health insurer.
Contempt of Court (Show Cause) Hearing
Income Tax Intercept
Other Enforcement Remedies
Criminal Nonpayment of Support
Health Care Enforcement
Δ One parent requested payment from the other parent within 28 days after receiving an insurer’s determination that an expense was not covered.
Δ The other parent did not pay within 28 days after the request for payment was made.
Δ The Friend of the Court’s assistance is requested within one year after incurring the expense, or within six months after the insurer has denied coverage, or within six months after the other parent failed to pay as required.
♥ Related Form: Request for Healthcare Expense Payment
♥ Related Form: Complaint and Notice for Healthcare Expense Payment
Modification of a Support Order
The Friend of the Court will review child support orders automatically once every 36 months if the child or one of the parents is receiving public assistance. In other cases, the Friend of the Court will conduct a review on written request by a party, but not more often than once every 36 months. If you need an immediate change in the support amount because of a change in your income or the other parent’s income, you should file a court motion requesting the change. Simply notifying the Friend of the Court that one parent’s financial situation has changed cannot automatically change the ordered support amount.
Threshold for Modification of the Support Order
The Friend of the Court will ask the court to change the required monthly support payment if the difference between the current support amount and the amount determined by the standard child support formula (using the parties’ most recent income data) is at least 10 percent or $25.00 per month, whichever is less. If the difference between the current support amount and the current formula amount is less than that minimum threshold, the Friend of the Court is not required to request a change.
Party’s Motion to Modify the Support Order
A party may file a motion to change the support order. The office of the Friend of the Court will provide forms and instructions to any party who wishes to file this type of motion without the assistance of an attorney. A party may also contact an attorney to file a motion requesting a change in the amount of support.
♥ Related Form: Motion Regarding Support
♥ Related Form: Response to Motion Regarding Support
Agreement to Modify the Support Order
If the parties agree to change the support amount to a different amount determined by the child support formula both parents may sign an agreement and present an order to the court. Once the order is signed by the judge, and filed with the county clerk, it becomes the new support order.
Retroactive Modification of Support Generally Not Allowed: Exception
Once child support is ordered, a later increase or decrease in the support amount generally cannot apply to any time period before the motion for a change was filed. Michigan law recognizes one exception to that rule: a court may modify support retroactively if a party who has been ordered to do so has intentionally failed to report an income change to the Friend of the Court or has made a report that misrepresented that party’s income.
Support Questions and Answers
- How do I get an order for child support?
Do I need an attorney to get a support order?
May I receive child support after my child reaches age 18?
If I have been paying child support as required by the court’s order but the custodial parent will not allow me the parenting time required by that order, do I have to keep paying support?
The other parent is not paying child support as ordered. What can I do?
My court order says to pay support through the Michigan State Disbursement Unit. May I pay the other parent directly?
If I am receiving TANF or Family Independence Program (FIP) public assistance, may I also receive child support?
Will Friend of the Court make sure that child support money is spent on the children?
Will the court modify the support order if the payer is in jail or prison?