Ninth Judicial Circuit Court
FRIEND OF THE COURT HANDBOOK - CHANGES AFFECTING CHILD SUPPORT
Change in Physical Custody
The Custody and Parenting Time unit of the FOC should be notified immediately if the non-custodial parent temporarily or permanently takes physical custody of the child. If you have a court order that requires you to pay child support and your child is placed or comes into your physical custody, the Order of Support does not automatically end. A support order cannot be suspended except by another court order.
When the FOC office gets notice from the party to whom the order has given physical custody that physical custody has changed, the FOC office will prepare a Notice of Redirection or Abatement of Child Support. This is mailed to both parties at their most recently reported address and gives parties 21 days to object to the abatement of support. There is a date on the notice stating when abatement will begin. If there is no objection, support will stop. If there is an objection, a notice of this objection will be sent to both parties explaining that there was an objection to the action. This will also advise the parties that they can file a motion with the 9th Circuit Court - Family Division if they wish to pursue the abatement.
When the FOC office gets a notice from either parent that the dependent on their case is now living with a third party a determination will be made as to where that party is considered to be "legally responsible." To be legally responsible there must be guardianship papers, a court order, or a Power of Attorney signed by the custodial parent.
If the FOC cannot readily determine legal responsibility, a Denial of Request for Redirection or Abatement will be mailed to the party that made the request explaining that further documentation is needed. If the FOC determines that there is a change in legal responsibility, a Notice of Redirection or Abatement of Child Support will be sent to both parties giving them 21 days to object to the redirection. There is a date on the notice stating when redirection will begin. If there is no objection support will be redirected. If there is an objection, a notice of this objection will be sent to both parties explaining that there was an objection to the action. This will also advise the parties that they can file a motion with the 9th Circuit Court - Family Division if they wish to pursue the redirection.
At no time during this process does the FOC office have the authority to hold support payments. Payments must continue to be processed and sent as directed in the court's most recent order.
Once there has been a redirection or abatement of support there will be a referral to the modification department for a review of the current support order for a change in support or to recommend that both parties should be required to pay support.
Parenting Time Credit Requests
Unless specifically permitted by court order or agreed to in writing by the custodial parent, no parenting time credit will be given on an account. Parenting time must be submitted in writing to the FOC within six months of the last date of parenting time or as directed by the order. Requests submitted after that time will not be honored. This policy is required to prevent surcharge adjustments for more than one six month cycle. It also provides safeguards so that the amounts submitted for tax offsets are correct.
The request for parenting time credit must include the specific beginning and ending dates of the parenting time (the pick-up day and the drop off day), case/docket number, payer's full name and telephone number, and information as to which children took part in the parenting time.
When the FOC receives written notice from one of the parties of parenting time, the dates are entered into the computer.
The system generates a letter to both parties stating the request was received, the dates submitted for the abatement and the calculated credit. If there is no objection, the system will automatically advance to the next step.
Twenty-one days from the date of the letter, credit will be applied to the account for the amount listed in the letter. The system will check for arrears on this docket and also check any other dockets the non-custodial parent (NCP) may have. If arrears are found, the refund will be applied to those arrears rather than refunded to the NCP. If the credit is for more than the amount of those arrears, or there are no arrears, MiCSES will note the potential refund amount to the system to allow for refund payments to be made.
When payments come in, the system will look for any potential refund amounts. If there is a refund due, the system will disburse money based on federal guidelines. The system will apply payments to current support and refunds. It is important to understand that the refund will not necessarily be all in one check. The refund may come in partial payments spread out over many weeks depending on federal guidelines and what your order states.
When Child Support Ends
Support orders usually require payment of child support until the youngest child reaches the age of 18 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later.
If ordered, support may continue beyond age 18 as long as the child is regularly attending high school on a full-time basis with a reasonable expectation of completing sufficient credits to graduate from high school while residing on a full-time basis with the recipient or at an institution, but in no case after the child reaches 19 years and 6 months of age. The FOC Office needs to be informed when a child is going to school after they turn 18. A letter from the child's school stating the child is attending school full time and the child's expected date of graduation is needed. Once the FOC Office has this information MiCSES should automatically make the billing changes required in accordance with the terms stated in the order.
There are several circumstances that might terminate child support at an earlier date. The FOC should be notified, in writing, as soon as possible if one of the following or a similar situation occurs: the child no longer lives with the custodial parent, is adopted, marries, dies, becomes emancipated prior to the age of eighteen, or enters the armed forces. Documentation is required to substantiate the basis for the termination of support for any of these reasons.
As stated before, child support is a primary obligation. A child must be provided for even during periods of economic difficulty. When the payer becomes unemployed the FOC must be notified immediately. The payer should provide answers to the following in writing:
1. What is the reason for the unemployment (laid off; quit; fired or suspended; on strike; sick leave; worker's compensation injury; other
2. On what date did employment terminate?
3. Was termination permanent or temporary? If temporary, when is recall expected, if known?
4. Will any income or benefits from any source be received, including but not limited to unemployment compensation; worker's compensation; sick pay; insurance; S.U.B. pay; social security; public assistance; other jobs or part-time work; V.A. benefits; retirement programs; an inheritance; savings; strike pay?
5. When will these benefits start, how much income will they provide in total, and how often will they be received? If they have started, include a copy of the check or check stub in the letter.
6. Will the payer have an address change? If so, what will the new address be (both mailing address and street address, if they are different)?
7. At what telephone number can the payer be reached between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday?
If you are the payer, you may wish to discuss your situation in person. If so, please call to make an appointment with your enforcement officer. Bring the answers to the questions listed above. Generally, you will be advised to make payments in accordance with the Child Support Formula based on your income from all sources while unemployed. Should any of these benefits increase, decrease, or end, you should report this in writing along with the effective date.
Any temporary arrangement for you to pay less than the court-ordered amount does not reduce the amount of support being charged against the account. Only the court, upon petition, and agreement in writing by the parties, or after a hearing upon petition by one of the parties, as described above, can change the order.
If you have no unemployment benefits, or if benefits have run out and you have not obtained employment within two weeks, you may be required to file a report with the FOC each month showing your attempts to find work. Forms will be provided to you for this purpose. You should also register with the Unemployment Agency, obtain a stamped Unemployment Agency card, and register with the Job Placement Division. Remember that, the well being of the child must come first, even in times of economic difficulty. Both parents must work together, and with the FOC, to avoid misunderstandings and possible contempt of court proceedings.
Many people have seasonal occupations, such as those in agriculture or the construction trades. Child support must be paid on a regular basis throughout the year so the custodial parent can be assured of a steady flow of support money needed for the child. It is the responsibility of the payer with seasonal employment to budget income so that payments can be made regularly, as ordered.