Child support enforcement is an important part of ensuring that children receive the financial support they need from their parents. In Michigan, child support enforcement is handled by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) through its Child Support Division. The DHHS works closely with local courts and agencies to ensure that the responsible parent pays the court-ordered child support obligation.
If you are in legal trouble due to not paying child support in Michigan or are not receiving payments, it is important to understand the options available to you. Not paying child support payments can have many consequences, so call Clarity Family Law for a free consultation and an evaluation of your case. Schedule a free consultation with a Dearborn child support lawyer by calling us at (313) 513-1919.
What Role Does the State of Michigan Play in Child Support Enforcement?
The State of Michigan takes child support enforcement very seriously. This is evidenced by the fact that it has a dedicated Office of Child Support (OCS) within its Department of Human Services. OCS is tasked with enforcing state and federal laws pertaining to child support, a critical responsibility that greatly impacts the lives of children in the state.
OCS performs a number of key functions related to child support. One of these child support functions is to ensure proper accountability and track progress and to do this, they use an administrative (non-judicial) process to determine paternity when needed, as well as locate parents who have gone missing or otherwise disappeared.
Furthermore, they attempt to reconcile families through mediation and other court proceedings, while also providing educational materials on parenting responsibility and its importance. Ultimately, OCS administers all child support money established by court orders for both public assistance recipients and those receiving benefits outside of public aid programs.
What Happens If I Don't Pay Child Support as Ordered?
If a paying parent falls behind on their court-ordered child support payments, there are several measures the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Office of Child Support (OCS) can take in order to retrieve any missed payments.
In order to cover all grounds, OCS has the power to send withholding orders directly to all employers who have hired child support paying parents. This way, employers must withhold funds for arrearages and pay them directly to MiSDU – the Michigan State Disbursement Unit for child support.
Furthermore, OCS can track down income sources for those who move around from job to job or even intercept government benefits such as unemployment or worker's compensation that would normally be allocated to the paying parent individually.
The organization also takes advantage of federal returns and state income tax returns as possible methods of repayment for overdue payments. All in all, by keeping track of every possible financial source available, OCS has a variety of legal tools at its disposal that it can use if there are any missed payments in the court-ordered child support payment plan.
Enforcing Child Support Payments
The state of Michigan works to ensure that non-custodial parents are held accountable for their financial obligations to their children or former partners. The laws in Michigan are designed to ensure that they receive payment from parents each month so the kids have financial support.
An income withholding order can be an effective way to ensure that child support and medical support payments are made on time and in full. This type of order requires money to be taken directly out of the non-custodial parent's paycheck, after which it is sent directly to the Michigan State Disbursement Unit (MiSDU).
Income withholding orders are mandatory for all new and modified child support orders unless both parents and the court agree on other payment methods. What's more, these mandates also apply to any income received by either parent from sources of income such as unemployment benefits, Social Security benefits, independent contracting, workers' compensation claims, and insurance claims.
These requirements ensure financial security for the custodial parent and allow them to properly care for their children or dependents without having to worry about tracking down cash payments or encountering hurdles when they try to enforce an earlier ruling.
If a custodial parent has reason to believe a non-custodial one is not making payments according to an order, they are encouraged to contact the court immediately and request that an income withholding order be issued.
Tax Refund Offset
State and federal tax refund offset is a mechanism used by the government to ensure that overdue payments are made. When the amount of past-due support, or arrearages, reaches a certain level (the threshold), the taxpayer’s federal and/or state tax refunds can be intercepted to pay off their debts.
The threshold for state tax refund offset is $150, while the federal past-due threshold is set at $150 for cases receiving cash assistance, and $500 for non-cash assistance cases.
The person responsible for paying their debts is sent a notice informing them of their right to object to the tax refund offset. This notification contains information about the reasons why they may wish to challenge it. It’s important to note that in the case of joint tax returns, the spouse making the claim has the right to retain his or her portion of any refunds intercepted by this process.
If a parent fails to make payments on time, they could wind up being reported to one of the many consumer credit reporting agencies. Depending on the severity and cumulative duration of their payment record, this can have negative consequences on their long-term credit score.
If a parent is late on their payments by more than two months, they will automatically be reported to one of these agencies. They should also expect not only to receive a lower overall score but also potential issues with obtaining loans in the future due to diminished credibility with financial institutions.
Penalties for Not Paying Child Support
Failure to pay child support in the state of Michigan can result in significant penalties. In certain circumstances, there may be consequences such as an arrest warrant, license suspension, or passport denial.
When an individual is ordered to pay child support and fails to do so, they may be ordered to appear in court in order to show cause as to why they should not be held in contempt.
This Contempt Hearing requires the person to provide a satisfactory explanation for why they failed to comply with the court’s orders. If the person does not respond or appear at this hearing, then the court has the power to issue a bench warrant for their arrest.
Bench warrants are an incredibly powerful tool that allows law enforcement agents across multiple jurisdictions to track down a person who has not fulfilled a court order.
With regards to child support cases, when an individual is faced with such a warrant, they may face fines and/or jail time if unable to pay what is owed. Ultimately, these measures exist in order to make individuals adhere to and be accountable for their obligations.
Once two months' worth of payments has been missed, driver's licenses, recreational or sporting licenses (such as hunting or fishing), and professional licenses can all be denied, suspended, or revoked until the arrears are paid. Depending on the circumstances of the suspension, it may be possible to reinstate your license following successful payment of overdue child support obligations.
If a parent falls behind on payments for child support, their passport may be denied or revoked by the US Department of State. This policy was put in place by Congress in 2015, allowing for the suspension or revocation of passports when a parent reaches the past-due support threshold of $2,500.
It is important to note that while the government can decide to deny or revoke an individual’s passport in cases of delinquent child support payments, this is not always automatic. Passport denial or revocation will only happen after several pieces of correspondence have been sent out and payment still hasn't been made.
Speak to a Skilled Child Support Lawyer Today!
Child support payments can be financially challenging, especially when you have additional financial responsibilities and debts. However, it is important to understand the possible legal consequences of not making these payments and how that can affect you negatively in the long term.
Our team of experienced lawyers can provide assistance if you are facing legal issues related to missed child support payments. Contact our law office, Clarity Family Law, in Dearborn, Michigan to speak to an experienced lawyer today. We will provide a free initial consultation to evaluate your case and make sure you understand your legal rights in your specific situation.