A support order is any order entered by the circuit court which requires the payment of support. A support order may include:
- Child support
- Spousal support
- Payment of medical, dental and other health care
- Payment of child care expenses
- Payment of educational expenses
The Friend of the Court may request you to sign a document for Federal reporting purposes, which is an application for Friend of the Court (IVD) services.
Support Investigations and Reports
If ordered by the court, the Friend of the Court will conduct a financial investigation and make a written report and recommendation to the parties and the court regarding child support.
Michigan Child Support Formula Manual
State and Federal law require that a child support formula be used by Friends of the Court and Prosecuting Attorneys when recommending appropriate child support amounts. In Michigan, a child support formula manual has been developed which considers both the non-custodial and custodial parent's income and the number of annual overnights the children spend with each parent.
A copy of the manual may be available at your local library. If you would like obtain your own printed copy of the Michigan Child Support Formula Manual, they are made available for $5.00, prepaid. Make check or money order payable to the State of Michigan and send a request to:
Department of Management and Budget
Office Services Division
P.O. Box 30026
Lansing, MI 48909
Or, the Michigan Child Support "Guideline" Formula Manual itself can be downloaded from The SCAO web site at
Automatic Support Enforcement
The Friend of the Court is required to automatically begin enforcement action against a parent paying support whose back support is in an amount equal to four weeks of support. This is to be done without waiting for a complaint or request for enforcement from the person receiving support.
If both parties want to temporarily stop the Friend of the Court from automatically enforcing the support order, they must file a joint written request with the Friend of the Court. If the custodial parent is currently receiving public assistance or there is money owed to the Department of Human Services, the parties cannot stop enforcement action.
Enforcement of Support
The Friend of the Court has many options available to enforce support orders. These options include:
- Income Withholding Notice: An income withholding notice requires the payer's (person required to pay support) employer or other source of income to withhold support from his or her paycheck. All support orders issued in the state of Michigan must provide for a notice of income withholding. If the payer lives out of state, and gets behind in making his or her support payments, the Friend of the Court may begin an interstate income withholding action. In order for a Friend of the Court office to start an interstate income withholding action, it must have the following information: name, address and social security number of payer and the name and address of the employer.
- Show Cause Hearing: If an order for income withholding does not work, the Friend of the Court may begin a civil contempt proceeding by filing a petition with the court for an order to show cause. If the show cause hearing is held and the payer does not appear, the judge may issue a bench warrant for the payer's arrest. Once the court issues a bench warrant, the responsibility for the payer's arrest lies with the local law enforcement agencies.
- Tax Intercept: If back child support is owed, the Friend of the Court may request an income tax offset. A tax offset is where any tax refund owed to a payer is sent to the Friend of the Court and applied to back child support.
- Liens: In some cases, the Friend of the Court may be able to obtain a lien on a payer's property.
Modifications of a Support Order
The Friend of the Court is required by state law to review child support orders as follows:
- Not less than once every three years if the children for whom support is being paid are receiving public assistance.
- When on its own finding or initiative, the Friend of the Court office determines that the amount of the child support order should be changed.
- Upon a written request from a party, no more than once every three years. The office must complete its support review within 60 days and make a copy of its recommendations and supporting documents available to the parties or their attorneys. If the office finds that an increase or decrease is appropriate, the Friend of the Court must petition the court for a change in the child support amount.
Support Payment Information
When a support order is/or will be entered through the Court system, the order will be payable through the Michigan State Disbursement Unit (MiSDU). The court order number (docket number), the payer's Social Security Number, payer's full name and county number must accompany your payment. Checks should be made payable to: MiSDU and mailed to PO Box 30351, Lansing, MI 48909-7851.
PAYMENTS MADE THROUGH INCOME WITHHOLDING NOTICE: Pursuant to statute, a Notice of Income Withholding is entered immediately upon entry of the Support Order. However, the payer is responsible for making support payments on their own through the MiSDU until support payments are deducted from payer's wages. Please allow two weeks for processing an Income Withholding Notice after the Office of the Friend of the Court has received their copy of the Support Order signed by the Judge.
Direct payments made to the client after an order of Support has been entered are considered a gift. Support payments cannot be made directly to a recipient of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF).
Payment information is available through the IVR (interactive voice response) system by dialing 989-832-6801 and selecting #1. The IVR is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Case information is also available on the state sponsored web-site MiCase. MiCase is a public, secure web site that custodial parties (CPs) and non-custodial parents (NCPs) can use to view information about their child support case(s). To sign-up for MiCase access please go to www.michigan.gov/micase.
After a public user logs into the MiCase website, they are provided options for viewing information about their case:
- Current Amount Owed
- Payment Summary
- Income Withholding
- Hearing Information
- Bench Warrant
- Local Office Information
Checks, electronic funds transfer and debit card entries are issued by the MiSDU.
How is Child Support Affected by Unemployment of the Payor
Lost my job, do I still have to pay my support?
It is important to understand two things: 1) a support order remains in effect until it is changed (modified) by the Court, and 2) by law, a support order cannot be retroactively modified.
What does this mean to you? When you have a change in circumstances, such as the loss of your job, you should ask the court to change your support order as soon as possible. The court can only order a modification of your support obligation effective the date that you have filed your motion with the County Clerks office. If you wait to file your motion, you will be responsible for all support that is charged in the meantime.
How do I get my support order changed?
You must ask the court to change (modify) your order. This is done by filing a motion (request) for modification. You can file a motion by obtaining the necessary packet from the Friend of Court office or contacting an attorney.
How can I find out how much my support should be?
Support in the State of Michigan must be ordered pursuant to the Michigan Child Support Formula, unless the Court determines that support under the Formula would be unjust or inappropriate. The Formula takes into account the incomes of each of the parties, the number of children that the parties have in common, the number of parenting time overnights each party has with the children during a typical year, as well as other factors such as other children of the parties. The Formula is intended to assure equity in support orders throughout the State of Michigan, and to assure that the financial needs of children are met. Neither the State nor the Court wants a payer to pay more support than is required under the Formula.
After I file my motion, what happens?
Your motion will be heard by the Court. There will be a motion hearing at which the Court will determine if there is cause to modify support, i.e. a change in circumstances. If both parties are present and the Court has enough information at the motion hearing, the Court can order a modification of support at that time. If there is not enough information, the Court may set an evidentiary hearing at which the parties will be required to present their income and other information. If the Court cannot determine the appropriate amount of support at the evidentiary hearing, it may order the Friend of the Court to conduct a support investigation. If such an investigation or support review is ordered, it is essential that both parties provide all information that is necessary to the Friend of the Court. The Court will either set another hearing after the Friend of the Court investigation, or the Court may order that the modification be noticed for entry under the Friend of the Court Act.
How does entry under the Friend of the Court Act work?
Under the law (Friend of the Court Act) a modification of support can be calculated by the Friend of the Court and then sent to the parties as a proposed order. There is a notice sent with the proposed order, advising the parties that they can object to the proposed order by filing an objection with the Friend of the Court within 21 days of the proposed order being mailed to them. If no objection is filed, the order is sent to the assigned Judge for signature, and is then entered by the Court as a modification order.
Does it cost money to file a motion to modify my support?
Yes, under the law there are two fees that must be paid when your motion is filed. One is a $20.00 motion fee, and the other is a $40.00 judgment fee for support orders. If you cannot afford to pay the fees that are required, you can ask the Court to waive fees due to being indigent. The forms and instructions to ask the court to waive fees are available through the Circuit Court Clerk. You should evaluate the cost of keeping your support obligation as it was ordered before your change in circumstances versus to what your support will likely be changed when modified. In most cases, the fees involved pale in comparison to the result from having the support order modified.
If I qualify for unemployment, will support be taken out of my unemployment compensation?
Yes, it should be done automatically. There is a direct link between Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency and the Michigan Child Support Enforcement System to keep support payments coming for the benefit of the minor children. If you find that your support was NOT taken from your Unemployment Compensation check, you are responsible for contacting the Friend of the Court office immediately to report this and making your payment on your own. You should send your payment to:
P.O. Box 30351
Lansing, MI 48909-7851
You can also make on-line payments at: https://www.misdu.com/secure/
Again, it is very important to ask the Court to modify your support order as soon as possible, as the amount that will be withheld from unemployment will be based upon the current court order.
Can I get my support modified without filing a motion and paying the fees?
Yes. You can request a Friend of the Court support review if 1) it has been 36 months since your support order has been established or modified, OR 2) if you can demonstrate that a significant change in circumstances has occurred (loss of your job is a change in circumstances). If you request a support review, the Friend of the Court will obtain as much information as possible from you and the other party, as well as any sources of income that you each may have. After all required information is received; the Support Investigator will calculate the appropriate amount of support and make a recommendation with a proposed support order. The recommendation and order will be sent to the parties with a notice of their right to object within 21 days (see the section above regarding order entry under the Friend of the Court Act). If no objection is filed, the order will be sent to the Judge for entry. The effective date of the modification will be the date the order is signed by the Judge.
Why should I pay for a motion when the Friend of the Court can review and modify my support at no charge?
Understand that when the Friend of the Court does a support review, it can take 90 days or more for a recommendation to be made. This is due to the requirement to obtain sufficient information to make the recommendation, as well as the number of reviews that the Office is required to complete. When the Friend of the Court does a support review, the order is not effective until it is signed by the Judge. When you have filed your own motion, the modification can be effective the date you filed your motion and proof of service with the Court. You should read all of the instructions in the Pro Per packet for modification of support, and then make the decision whether it is best in your circumstance to file a motion or request a support review. The cost of filing the motion can be quickly offset by a reduction in the monthly amount of support that is ordered.
I’m not sure I understand. Can you give me an example?
For example: You are ordered to pay $500 per month in support. Your circumstances change and your support under the Formula would be reduced to $350 per month. That is a difference of $150. You decide to request a support review from the Friend of the Court instead of filing a motion. The support review takes about 3 months to complete. Along with the objection period, the order is not issued and is not effective for 4 months. The child support for which you are responsible during that period of time is $2000. If, in the alternative, you had filed your own motion, your support obligation of $350 per month could be effective four months earlier (the date of your motion/proof of service). Therefore, your support during that period would be $1400, a difference of $600, at a cost of $60.00 for you to file your own petition.