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How does child-support enforcement work in Michigan?

The process of ordering and enforcing child-support payments in Michigan is similar to the process in other states. Authorities use a variety of methods to ensure that noncustodial parents pay what they owe each month on time to ensure that the noncustodial parents are able to raise their minor children with less financial trouble. Both parents, though, custodial and noncustodial, should clearly understand the state's child-support laws. If they do, they can avoid disputes and be sure their children have the financial support they need.

Income withholding is one tool being used to collect child-support payments. A certain portion of the noncustodial parent's income is deducted each month for support payments. The employer sends the payments to the Michigan State Disbursement Unit. Other income, such as workers' compensation claims, insurance claims and Social Security benefits are also subject to income withholding, if needed.

Bench warrants are another method often used by the state. If a noncustodial parent fails to pay the person's child support, a judge can order the parent to appear in court. Failure to show up can result in a bench warrant.

Any parent who owes back child support also can have any license that the person may have -- including driver's, professional and hunting and fishing -- suspended. The noncustodial parent also may have the person's credit rating downgraded.

Parents who have difficulties paying child support should find a way to settle their debts as soon as possible. If they have paid their support but find it difficult to pay the current court-ordered amount each month, they can request a support modification. If possible, they should speak with the custodial parent and discuss the issue before going to court. Finally, as with other family law issues, seeking legal advice can help ensure that the legal process is handled appropriately.

Source: Michigan.gov, "Enforcing support," accessed on Oct. 29, 2014

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