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How Can You Enforce a Child Support Order?

Child support is one of the few issues that cannot be contested in a divorce. Awards of support are calculated according to a statutory formula that takes multiple factors into account, including the parents’ incomes and expenses, the number of children supported and the custody and parenting time arrangements. But child support disputes can and often do arise after the divorce is granted if a spouse fails to make payments in full and/or on time. If you are the recipient spouse, enforcement measures may need to be taken.

Under Michigan law, there are several different ways to collect unpaid child support. The Michigan Adult & Children’s Services agency provides several mechanisms. One of these is income withholding, which is an order to an employer to deduct current and unpaid child support directly from the delinquent parent’s paycheck. The employer must send the deducted amounts directly to the Michigan State Disbursement Unit, which then disburses them to the recipient parent.

Another option is a tax refund offset. If the delinquent parent is entitled to a tax refund, the other parent may be able to collect unpaid child support from that refund. This method is subject to several limitations and conditions but can be effective in some cases.

Child support orders are also enforceable through the court. You can seek to have the delinquent parent held in contempt. That parent must appear in court at a show cause hearing. If the other parent fails to appear, a bench warrant may be issued for their arrest. If the court finds the parent in contempt, they may order them to cure the contempt by making back payments.

Other methods used to collect child support include the following:

  • A lien or levy against real property, insurance claims, or other financial assets
  • Credit reporting against the non-custodial parent
  • Driver’s license or other license suspension
  • Passport application denial
  • A qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) against a retirement account
  • Criminal contempt charges

You will first want to consult a child support attorney who is well-versed in the best methods to collect support through the courts and other available processes. Follow your attorney’s advice on how to proceed.

At Dawson Family Law, PLLC in Sterling Heights, we serve families throughout Michigan in family matters and child support enforcement cases. Contact us online or call 833-671-4445 for a free initial consultation.

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