CHILD SUPPORT - MEDICAL SUPPORT - SPOUSAL SUPPORT
The Mason County Friend of the Court administers child support, medical support, and spousal support orders in divorce, paternity, and family support cases. This includes maintaining support accounts, disbursement of payments, enforcing orders, reviewing support orders, and making recommendations to the court regarding support amounts.
In most cases, parents are required to maintain health insurance for the minor child(ren) if it is available at a reasonable cost. Using the Michigan Child Support Guideline, reasonable cost is determined according to the parents incomes. Parents are required to provide current health insurance information to the Friend of the Court. In addition to providing health insurance, both parents are generally required to pay a percentage of uninsured health care costs. The Friend of the Court has a Request for Health Care Expense Payment form (see FORMS page) available so that you may notify the other party to request payment of their portion of the medical expenses. The Friend of the Court provides medical support enforcement services in cases of noncompliance after the parties have attempted to work out a payment arrangement on their own.
Contact the Friend of the Court office in writing to request enforcement of the child support or spousal support order. You may also contact an attorney to file an enforcement action
The Friend of the Court automatically reviews support orders for possible changes every two years. When support is reviewed, the Friend of the Court gathers financial information from both parties and makes a recommendation for support based on the Michigan Child Support Guidelines.
In addition to the 3 year review, the Friend of the Court offers a Motion Regarding Child Support ( http://courts.mi.gov/Administration/SCAO/Forms/courtforms/domesticrelations/support/foc50.pdf ) form for use by any party who does not yet qualify for a 3 year review but feels that there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the last support order or review. This form may also be used by parties who have filed a case and now desire to establish a support order. There is a $60.00 fee for filing a motion.
It is not required that you have an attorney to file a petition for support. However, an attorney may be helpful when filing papers and following specific rules.
CHILD SUPPORT STIPULATIONS
If the parties agree to a support amount (in non-public assistance cases), the Friend of the Court will prepare a stipulation and order at no cost to the parties.
NON-RETROACTIVE SUPPORT ACTIONS
In most cases, a support order can only be changed from the date a motion is mailed or served. If your financial situation changes, you should immediately file a motion if you believe a change in support is necessary.
CHILD SUPPORT & FIA PAYMENTS
If the child is receiving Family Independence Program payments (FIP), the child support payments are payable to the Family Independence Agency. However, if the child is only receiving medicaid, food stamps, or child care assistance, the child support will be paid directly to the custodial parent.
INTERSTATE SUPPORT ACTIONS
If either parent leaves the state of Michigan, it does not mean that the child support obligation ends. The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) assists states in dealing with cases where a party or source of income is in another state. Under UIFSA, only one state has the right to establish or modify support. There are several procedures available under UIFSA. A Michigan order may be registered in another state for enforcement and for modification of the support amount. Interstate Income Withholding allows the Friend of the Court to send a withholding order directly to an employer in another state. And UIFSA provides some assistance in obtaining information needed for support hearings if one party lives in another state.
Michigan law requires the Friend of the Court to charge the payer of support a service fee of $24.00 per year and a state court fee of $15.00 per year. The fees are assessed in $19.50 increments twice a year, January 1 and July 1. 75 cents per week is added to Income Withholding Orders for fee payment.
Effective January 1, 1996, Public Act 141 of 1995 requires the Friend of the Court to assess an 8% annual surcharge on all past due support. It is charged at 4% on any balance due on January 1 and 4% on any balance due on July 1 of each year. The Friend of the Court receives no monetary benefit from the surcharge. All surcharges go to the person or entity to whom the delinquent funds are due.
ELECTRONIC FUND TRANSFER (DIRECT DEPOSIT) OF SUPPORT PAYMENTS
Information regarding Electronic Fund Transfer (Direct Deposit) is available by calling the support assistance line 1-877-543-2660 .
There is a $1.00 per page charge for any copies that are made for the client. Upon written request, the Friend of the Court will provide the parties with a statement of account free of charge. However, a $3.00 per calendar year fee will be charged for all payment histories. There may be other charges for other services.
MAKING SUPPORT PAYMENTS
Michigan law requires all ordered child support to be paid by Income Withholding. If you are ordered to pay support, you must keep the Friend of the Court informed of all changes in the name and address of your employer. If you are self employed or between jobs, you will need to personally mail yourpayments to: MICHIGAN SDU, PO BOX 30351, LANSING, MI 48909-7851. Please make out checks or money orders to "MiSDU" and it is extremely important to include your name, social security number, county name and number (Mason County 53) and docket number. Payments may no longer be accepted at the Friend of the Court office, except for the following:
If you are court ordered to pay a lump sum and have more than one case, you must contact the Mason County Friend of the Court office to make payment. Only cashiers checks will be accepted for this payment.
MICHIGAN STATE DISBURSEMENT UNIT
The Michigan State Disbursement Unit, known as the MiSDU, is responsible for the statewide receipt and disbursement of child support payments as required by federal legislation enacted in 1996. For more information, visit their website at www.misdu.com.
MICHIGAN CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINE
Michigan law requires the court to use the Michigan Child Support Guideline when recommending and ordering child support. The court may enter a support order in an amount determined by the guideline or the court may enter an order that deviates from the guideline if the court fins that it would be unjust or inappropriate to follow the guildeine.
The guideline is available for review on the internet athttp://courts.michigan.gov/scao/services/focb/focb.htm or at the Mason County Libraries.
To purchase a copy of the current Michigan Child Support Formula Manual (Guideline) you may contact the West Group at 1-(800)344-5009 for phone orders & at www.westgroup.com/store for web orders.
FRIEND OF THE COURT REFEREE
The Friend of the Court Referee is an attorney designated by the circuit court to hear any domestic relations issue, except a modification of spousal support. After a hearing, the referee issues a recommendation that becomes a court order after 21 days if neither party files an objection. If an objection is filed, then the circuit court judge conducts a hearing and enters an order. A party may object to a referee recommendation through an attorney or by using an Objection To Referee Recommendation form available to pick up at the Friend of the Court office.