Michigan child support surcharges are hurting parents, children

Surcharges in Michigan have led to an increase in parents falling behind on their child support payments and many are looking to change the state’s regulations.

All told there is over $9 billion in back child support owed in Michigan affecting more than 600,000 children, according to an article in The Detroit News. That’s about two-thirds of all child support cases in the state, the paper said.

Enacted in 1996 to encourage parents not to skip the payments, the surcharges assessed to delinquent payers are instead driving more parents into a steep financial hole, said Jennifer M. Paine, a Detroit-based family law attorney with domestic litigation firm Cordell & Cordell.

Paine said the surcharge, which is applied twice a year, has become punitive, unnecessarily punishing parents who simply don’t have the means to pay.

 

 

“It inflicts financial punishment for parents with past due child support when they are not willfully disregarding their support orders,” Paine said. “In this downward economy, especially in Michigan, it sends a terrible message that parents who would pay if they could are just like those so-called ‘deadbeats’ who avoid paying altogether.”

According to Paine, the problem is exacerbated by the localized methods for enforcement where local offices collect child support with varying levels of force, threats and finger pointing.

If you live in Michigan and are falling behind on child support payments, Paine advises parents to immediately contact their attorney and local child support enforcement agency.

There are methods, some provided by local rule and others by statute, to make payment plans, to opt-out of the Friend of the Court’s services (including the surcharge) and to discharge arrears, but certain criteria and conditions apply, according to Paine.

Click here to read the full article from The Detroit News.

 

Jennifer M. Paine is an Associate Attorney in the Detroit, Michigan, office of Cordell & Cordell P.C. She is licensed to practice in Michigan, and has been admitted pro hac vice in Illinois, Ohio, and the United States Court of Federal Claims. Ms. Paine received her BA in English and Mathematics from Albion College and graduated Summa Cum Laude. She received her Juris Doctorate from MSU College of Law and graduated Summa Cum Laude.

 

 

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