Traverse City Child Support Attorneys
Child Support Law Center, P.C.
At the Child Support Law Center, we assist and represent people in all major areas of Michigan child support law: establishment, enforcement, modification, and repayment plans.
A child support order, for the benefit of a minor child or children, can be established by a divorce case, a paternity case (under Michigan’s Paternity Act), a case under the Family Support Act, or through an interstate enforcement case. Regardless of how it is established, a child support order, in Michigan, a child support order can take priority over the collection of many other debts and obligations.
How is the amount of a child support order established? Michigan has adopted a mandatory formula, called the Michigan Child Support Guidelines. The formula is not a flat percentage of income, but instead uses three primary factors to arrive at an amount: the father’s income, the mother’s income, and the parenting time arrangements (how many overnights the child or children spend with each parent).
A family that is not receiving the court-ordered child support can have a difficult time with its budget. What is one to do when the child support is not being paid?
Although Friend of the Court is charged, under Michigan law, with both tracking and enforcing child support obligations, the Friend of the Court does not, and cannot, represent any person involved in the case. Enforcement of a child support order is sometimes difficult, and Friend of the Court’s personnel and resources are limited. In addition, the Friend of the Court has a large number of cases, and cannot always focus the amount of attention needed for challenging enforcement cases.
What can be done to enforce a child support order? Under Michigan law, all remedies available to any other judgment creditor are available to a person who is owed child support. So, wage garnishment, bank account garnishment, compelled attendance at a discovery examination, and compelled production of documents (such as tax returns) are all available. An attorney may be able to help you pursue these remedies.
The Court can also take action to revoke a delinquent payer’s driver’s license, hunting license, and even professional license (such as a dental license, real estate broker’s license, and similar state-issued licenses).
Under Michigan law, a child support order is modifiable at any time, upon a showing of changed circumstances. This is different from the “review” that the Friend of the Court is willing to conduct, every three years in most counties. In the Friend of the Court’s review, they will gather current income and child care expense from each parent, and then apply the Michigan Child Support Guidelines, to determine if the child support amount should be changed.
However, at any time, if your circumstances (such as your income), or the circumstances of your co-parent have substantially changed, you may file a motion to modify the child support order, either to increase it or decrease it. A change in circumstances sufficient to warrant a court review and change of child support would be a substantial change in one (or both) parent’s income. A substantial changes in the parenting time schedule might also be sufficient to warrant modification of the child support amount.
Under strict Michigan law, modification of a child support order may not be retroactive, except to the date that a motion to modify was filed. Not even a judge can change what is owed for child support. Under some repayment plans, surcharges may modified or waived, both going forward from the time a court-approved repayment plan is established, and in some cases, going back as far as 2004.
Under current Michigan law, surcharges of 8% per year accumulate on unpaid child support. Under legislation passed in 2004, a Court can now approve a child support repayment plan, which takes consideration of a payer’s income, and waives future surcharges on the arrears. The Court even has the discretion to waive some of the past surcharges, going back to the effective date of the law, in 2004.
Submitting a repayment plan for the Court’s review and approval is not a simple task. A
significant amount of information, about the arrearage, the support balance, fees imposed, and the payee’s income, is required. There is a SCAO-approved form, available here.
A repayment plan, if your arrears are substantial, could save you thousands of dollars. If you would like to hire us to assist you in preparing and submitting a request for a repayment plan, please contact us.