When couples with children separate, the non-custodial parent is required to pay a certain percentage of his paycheck to the custodial parent for child support. If you miss child support payments in Michigan, you're subject to the Michigan child support arrearage laws. You may disagree with your child support order or be in an argument about custody of your children, but you're still responsible for making your payments every time they come due. The state is very serious about Michigan child support enforcement and has a number of remedies designed to collect back payments and punish deadbeat parents.
Income Withholding to Collect Back Payments
Michigan requires all employers to report new hires so they have a record of employment of every resident in the state. Every new and modified child support order is required to involve income withholding unless both parents agree on other methods of payment. If a parent gets behind on her payments, the system is already in place to make a modified withholding, increasing the amount held to make up for the missing payments.
Even if parents lose their jobs, they are subject to withholding from other income sources such as independent contracting, workers compensation claims, Social Security benefits or unemployment benefits.
Collecting Back Payments Through Tax Refund Offsets
If your past-due amount has reached a threshold or designated level, the Friend of the Court, the child support enforcement officer in Michigan, can take your state or federal income tax refunds to make up for your back payments. In order for the state to take your state tax refund, you must have reached at least $150 in past-due payments. In order for your federal tax refund to be in danger, you must be behind at least $150 for a case that receives cash assistance. If the case is for non-cash assistance, the level is $500.
In both cases, if you owe the money, you'll be sent a notice and given an opportunity to object by providing reasons why the offset shouldn't happen. If there is a joint tax return involved, the other spouse may claim to keep her portion of the refund.
More Serious Methods of Collecting Back Child Support
If garnishing wages and taking income tax refunds don't remedy the problem, the Michigan Friend of the Court has a number of other methods to use in an effort to collect back payments, including:
- Putting a lien on personal property, insurance claims or other financial assets
- Suspending a driver's license or hunting and fishing license if the parent is more than two months behind in child support payments
- Denying or revoking a passport if the parent is more than $2,500 in arrears
- Reporting the parent to a consumer credit reporting agency if the parent is more than two months behind in her payment
Felony Child Support in Michigan
If all other methods have failed, the Friend of the Court can refer the case to the county prosecutor. She may charge the delinquent parent with felony non-support. In some Michigan counties, the case will be referred to the Attorney General for prosecution. This can result in a sentence of up to four years in prison and/or fines of up to $2,000.