January 4, 2021

How Can the Court Help Me Enforce Child Support?

Child support is a court-ordered monthly payment that one parent pays to the other parent to aid in raising children. Parents who receive monthly payments recognize how crucial it is to receive payments consistently and on time.

Under ideal circumstances, child support payments are automatically withheld from the payer’s paycheck. The Michigan State Disbursement Unit, part of the state’s child support system, forwards the amount to the payee.

Unfortunately, some parents will experience difficulty collecting payments. Automatic deductions from the payer’s paychecks may be prevented if the payer is self-employed. When this occurs, the payer is responsible for paying MiSDU. When more significant reasons, such as time served in jail, prevent payers from paying at all, the payer’s overdue payments are said to be in “arrearages.”

Enforcement methods for payments in arrears

Receiving payments from a parent who is either unwilling or unable to pay is difficult, but courts have developed methods to either collect payments or penalize those who are not paying. These methods include:

  • Placing liens on personal property or real estate
  • Garnishing tax refunds
  • Finding the payer in contempt
  • Suspending licenses, such as a hunting or driver’s license

When a payer becomes significantly behind in payments, the payee can file a motion in court claiming that the payer violated the child support order. If the judge grants the motion and finds that the payer can pay any amount of the payments, the payer can be held in contempt and face additional penalties.

Those who have not received payments may find themselves unable to meet their children’s needs. When this becomes the case, a supportive legal advocate can provide options and strategies for individual situations.