Michigan Child Support Enforcement

What Happens If a Non-Custodial Parent Fails to Pay Child Support?

If you've already obtained a child support order, and the non-custodial parent isn't making payments, or if the person ordered to pay is behind in making those payments (called arrearages ), there are a number of tools the court can use.

Contact the Friend of the Court

In Michigan, child support enforcement services are provided by the Michigan Department of Human Services, Friend of the Court .

What Can the Friend of the Court Do to Help Enforce a Support Order?

The Friend of the Court and/or the Office of Child Support can petition the court to get a parent to pay their child support including:

  • Withholding income from a parent's wages;
  • Placing liens on a parent's real or personal property;
  • Garnishing state and federal tax refunds;
  • Withhold child support from a paycheck or from unemployment benefits;>
  • Garnish worker's compensation benefits;
  • Suspending driving, occupational, sporting and/or recreational licenses;
  • Credit bureau reports;
  • Bench warrants for arrest;
  • A parent's passport may be denied or revoked when he or she reaches the past-due support threshold of $2,500;
  • File contempt of court actions, which could result in a jail sentence.

Criminal Prosecution and Contempt of Court

The Friend of the Court can refer the case to the county prosecutor, who may charge the person who owes support with the crime of felony non-support. Felony non-support charges are generally issued after other child support collection methods have not been successful. Custodial parents may also ask the county prosecutor for felony non-support prosecution.

After a certain amount of arrearages build up, the court can schedule a contempt hearing. If the court decides the payer could pay some or all of the amount owed, the payer can be held in contempt. Penalties for contempt may include any of the enforcement methods listed here (like suspending a driver’s license), plus fines, jail time, and other penalties

Modifying an Order

If a parent is having problems making payments, he or she should contact the court immediately. The parent can always seek to modify their existing support order. This will require going back to court and explaining to the judge why you can’t make your payments. Only a judge can change the amount you owe under a support order. Additionally, if either parent receives public assistance, the Friend of the Court automatically reviews the child support order amount every 36 months.

The following table highlights the main provisions of Michigan's Child Support Enforcement Laws.

See also Child Support Enforcement FAQs , How Do I Locate a Parent for Child Support, Enforcement and Collection of Back Child Support .

Code Section SUPPORT AND PARENTING TIME ENFORCEMENT ACT 295 of 1982
Who is Responsible? Both Parents
Agencies Friend of the Court, Michigan Department of Child Support Services
Remedies Available
  • Withholding income from a parent's wages;
  • Placing liens on a parent's real or personal property;
  • Garnishing state and federal tax refunds;
  • Withhold child support from a paycheck or from unemployment benefits;
  • Garnish worker's compensation benefits;
  • Suspending driving, occupational, sporting and/or recreational licenses;
  • Credit bureau reports;
  • Bench warrants for arrest;
  • A parent's passport may be denied or revoked when he or she reaches the past-due support threshold of $2,500;
  • File contempt of court actions, which could result in a jail sentence.

Federal Enforcement

If the non-custodial parent moves out of Michigan, the support order can still be enforced in any other U.S. state under the Uniform Federal Family Support Act. If you need help locating the other parent, the federal government has a Federal Parent Locator Service .

Other Resources

Child support enforcement laws are complicated. You may wish to contact a family law attorney in your area.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.