Payment of Child Support
Child support is generally paid through Michigan State Disbursement Unit (MISDU). This allows for accurate record keeping and prompt and in-expensive enforcement if an arrearage accrues. Support can also be set up between the parties requiring forms to be filed opting out of Friend of the Court Services. If parties opt out of FOC enforcement, then direct support payments are made to the other parent and you will need to keep precise records and receipts showing payments made or not made.
If a parent is ordered to pay child support, an order of income withholding may issue compelling his or her employer to automatically deduct the amount from each paycheck. This requires the non-custodial parent’s employer (or another source of income) to withhold from his/her paycheck monies owing for child support.
If a payer fails to pay court-ordered support, he or she may be held in contempt of court and potentially serve a jail term for contempt.
Child Support Arrearages and Enforcement for Non-Payment
If child support is order and the parent does not pay, an arrearage of child support begins and will grow with each non-payment. There are numerous ways to enforce payment of support.
One such collection mechanism is a Motion for Contempt, which brings the non-paying parent before the court to be held accountable for violating (i.e., not paying) the child-support order. A parent can also seek an Order to Show Cause, which is a Quasi-Criminal Contempt proceeding that requires the non-paying parent to appear before the court and show cause as to why he failed to pay. Failure to appear for a Show Cause Hearing will result in a bench warrant being issued by the court. In both of these motions, the judge is granted authority to assess sanctions in addition to payment of the unpaid support, award attorney fees, and even sentence the non-paying parent to jail for a period of time.
In cases where the support arrearage increases beyond $5,000, additional problems for non-paying parents arise. In these cases, once the $5,000 threshold is reached, the non-paying parent is subject to Felony Charges for nonpayment of child support. This will not only put a felony on the non-paying parent’s record, but it can potentially result in extended jail time or prison.
It is important to know, that child support is not retroactively modifiable. Once support is ordered, if not paid, the unpaid amount cannot be changed or modified. More specifically, suppose there is a $2,000 arrearage for the paying parent because the parties reconciled and began living together again, so there was no need to pay support. If the paying parent did not file a motion to modify support, the court cannot later on, order that amount to be forgiven (there are limited exceptions to this). It will remain as an arrearage until paid.
Our Child Support attorneys can guide you through the entire support process and counsel you if you are seeking support, seeking to reduce support, or have an arrearage you need cleared for good cause.
Modification of Child Support
As with Child Custody, the amount to be paid in Child Support is always modifiable. Child support is modifiable upon a showing of “changed circumstances.” Support is usually ordered until the minor child reaches the age of eighteen or graduates from high school, whichever occurs last. In some circumstances, support may be continued beyond the age of 18.
There are numerous reasons to change child support. It is important to know when to modify the support. When a change in circumstances occurs, do not wait to consult us, waiting can cause a build-up of support you may not need to pay. Some basic reasons to change support can include:
- Loss of employment/Laid off
- Reduction of income
- Child is residing with you, i.e., change in parenting time
- Reconciliation of parents
- Increase in income of non-paying parent
- Introduction of or elimination of child care expenses
If you have a question about whether or not you should file a motion to modify child support, please call one of our child support attorneys and get guidance on what steps you should take.
Failure to Pay Child Support and Parenting Time
Another often misunderstood nuance of paying child support is if a non-custodial (i.e., the paying) parent is denied visitation, it is not the right of that parent to stop making child support payments. Child support payments must continue. The Court views support and visitation as separate issues to be considered separately and distinctly from each other. If visitation is denied contrary to a court order, or if child support is not paid contrary to a court order, the court will enforce either on behalf of the aggrieved party. A non-custodial parent should not take “the law into their own hands” and withhold child support because he/she has been denied visitation. To do so would be a violation of the Child Support Order which is an order separate from the custody and parenting time order. Conversely, a custodial parent should not deny visitation for the failure to receive child support. This too is a violation of the child custody and parenting time order which again, is separate from the child support order.
To learn more about child support, please call or send us a message below so we can discuss and provide guidance on child support issues. Consultations are always free.