Ninth Judicial Circuit Court
FRIEND OF THE COURT HANDBOOK - SUPPORT QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
1. HOW DO I GET AN ORDER FOR SUPPORT?
A petition requesting the court to grant an order for support must be filed with the court even if the parties agree on the amount of support. If both parties sign an agreement (stipulation and consent order), that agreement will be entered as a support order if the court approves it. However, Michigan law requires that if the agreed amount differs from the amount that would be ordered under the Michigan Child Support Formula, specific information about the deviation must be stated in the order.
2. DO I NEED TO HAVE AN ATTORNEY TO GET AN ORDER FOR SUPPORT?
It is not required that you have an attorney to file a petition for support in a divorce action. However, an attorney may be helpful when filing papers and following specific rules. For paternity and family support actions, contact the FIA for a referral to the Child Support Division of the Prosecuting Attorney's office.
3. DOES THE JUDGE HAVE TO USE THE CHILD SUPPORT FORMULA OR THE FOC RECOMMENDATIONS WHEN SETTING SUPPORT ORDERS?
In most instances, yes. The Child Support Formula and the FOC recommendation are used to assist the Judge in making a decision concerning support amounts. Deviation from the amount recommended by the Child Support Formula is usually not allowable. If the court decides to order an amount other than that recommended by the Child Support Formula, the court must state on the record its reasons for doing so.
4. IF I HAVE BEEN PAYING MY CHILD SUPPORT AND THE CUSTODIAL PARENT IS NOT ALLOWING PARENTING TIME, DO I HAVE TO KEEP PAYING SUPPORT?
Yes. Parenting time and support are separate orders of the court, with separate enforcement procedures. Contact the FOC for assistance in enforcing your rights for parenting time.
5. THE NON-CUSTODIAL PARENT IS NOT PAYING SUPPORT. WHAT CAN I DO?
Contact the Support Enforcement unit of the FOC and request enforcement if the person ordered to pay support is at least one month behind in support. You may also contact an attorney to file an enforcement action. You are not allowed to deny the other parent his or her parenting time. Parenting time and support are separate orders of the court, with separate enforcement procedures.
6. THE PAYER OF SUPPORT IS SELF-EMPLOYED AND NOT MAKING HIS OR HER SUPPORT PAYMENTS. WHAT CAN THE FOC DO?
Income withholding orders are not usually effective when a payer is self-employed. In these cases, the FOC may seek enforcement using one or more of the following options:
a) Petition the court for a show cause hearing.
b) Submit the payer's name for income tax refund offset.
c) File a lien on the payer's property.
d) Petition the court for a cash bond to be posted by the payer to guarantee future payments are made.
e) Report the payer to consumer protection agencies.
f) Initiate action to suspend a professional and/or Driver's License.
Contact the FOC office for further information concerning these options.
7. MY COURT ORDER STATES THAT I AM TO PAY SUPPORT THROUGH THE FOC OFFICE (OR MiSDU). CAN I PAY THE SUPPORT TO THE RECIPIENT DIRECTLY?
No. In the Ninth Circuit Court there is a local court policy that mandates payment be made through the FOC, unless specific conditions are met and an order allows direct payments. Support is paid through MiSDU office to keep an official record of all payments. If you want credit for payments made directly to the other party, you must get a court order that allows the FOC office to credit your account for a specific amount.
8. IF THE COURTS HAVE ORDERED CHILD SUPPORT AND EITHER PARENT HAS A MAJOR INCREASE OR DECREASE IN INCOME, WHAT CAN BE DONE?
The Michigan Child Support Formula requires that the FOC consider both parents' income when making child support recommendations. If either party has had a large increase or decrease in income, they should contact the FOC to report this change.
If the parties both agree to change the support order, and they sign a written agreement (stipulation and consent order), that agreement will be entered as an order, if approved by the court, provided a petition has been filed and the proposed order submitted. However, Michigan law requires that if the agreed amount differs from the amount that would be ordered under the Michigan Child Support Formula, specific information about the deviation must be stated in the order.
9. IF I AM RECEIVING PUBLIC ASSISTANCE DO I STILL GET CHILD SUPPORT?
No. All child support payments paid while you are receiving public assistance must be sent by the MiSDU to the Michigan DHS.
10. IS THE FOC RESPONSIBLE FOR MAKING SURE THAT CHILD SUPPORT MONEY IS BEING SPENT ON THE CHILD?
No. The law does not give the FOC the authority to verify how child support payments are spent.
11. WHAT SHOULD I DO IF A PRIVATE COMPANY CONTACT ME AND WANTS ME TO SIGN AN AGREEMENT WITH THEM AND PAY THEM A FEE SO THAT THEY CAN HELP ME GET SUPPORT?
Kalamazoo County has a Local Administrative Order about Private Child Support Collection #2001-009. The FOC office will send you a copy if you request it.