In divorces that involve children, one parent almost always has to pay child support to the other parent. Typically, it is the non-custodial parent who pays this support to help with the expenses for the child’s basic needs, such as food, shelter, and clothing. Support can also include expenses for health care and insurance premiums.
Child support is always one of the most contentious terms of any divorce, both during the proceedings and once the divorce is final. The paying parent often believes that the parent receiving the money is using it to make personal purchases that do not benefit the child. When this is the case, the payer often refuses to continue making payments. So, what can you do if your spouse refuses to pay child support?
The Role of the Office of Child Support
In Michigan, the Office of Child Support (OCS) is responsible for enforcing state and federal child support laws. The OCS is a division of the Michigan Department of Human Services. OCS performs a number of different administrative functions in regard to child support, including:
- Establishing paternity in child support cases that involve unwed couples
- Locating parents that have disappeared
- Establishing child support obligations and modifying them when necessary
- Collecting and disbursing child support through the Michigan State Disbursement Unit (MiSDU)
When a parent does not meet child support obligations, the OCS will apply a number of different enforcement measures. However, this can be a long process. Parents who are not receiving court-mandated child support should speak to a Michigan family lawyer who can represent them in court and argue their case in front of a judge.
The Tools OCS Will Use when Enforcing Child Support
When the OCS needs to enforce child support orders, they have a number of tools available that help them do it.
One of the first steps the OCS will take is to send a withholding letter to the employer of the parent that is not fulfilling their child support obligations. The employer is then responsible for withholding the wages of the non-paying parent and sending those funds to the MiSDU. Employers must also report when they have hired a new employee, and provide their wage information, so OCS can track the income of parents that move around in different jobs.
OCS can collect money from sources other than the non-paying parent’s paycheck. They can also withhold any unemployment and workers’ compensation benefits a non-paying parent is receiving, and they can intercept state and federal tax returns, and apply that money to any child support the parent still owes.
One of the most extreme actions the OCS can take is to file an action of contempt with the court. Contempt actions are very serious. They require the non-paying parent to appear before a judge and show just cause why they have not paid support. Depending on the arguments and the judge, contempt actions can result in jail time, probation, or an entry of judgment against the non-paying parent.
These are just a few of the actions OCS can take when trying to enforce child support. They can also place liens on a home or financial assets, suspend or revoke the non-paying parent’s driver’s license, and report the money still owing to the credit bureaus, which will damage the parent’s credit score.
Our Michigan Family Lawyers can Help Enforce Child Support Orders
Although the OCS can take certain actions to enforce child support orders, these often take a long time and do not provide custodial parents with the money they need quickly. At Iafrate & Salassa, P.C., our Clinton Township family lawyers can help. We can represent you in court, argue your case to a judge, and help you get the child support payments you need in a timely manner. Call us or contact us online to get the support you need for you and your child.