What Are the Sentencing Guidelines in Michigan for Nonpayment of Child Support?

By Andrine Redsteer

In Michigan, when a court orders a noncustodial parent to pay child support, he must do so until the child turns 18 years old. If a child is still in high school, the noncustodial parent must provide support until the child turns 19 1/2 years old. When a parent violates a child support order, he may face criminal prosecution, jail time and/or fines.

Friend of the Court

In Michigan, child support enforcement is typically overseen by an officer of the court known as a "friend of the court," or FOC. When a noncustodial parent does not pay child support according to the terms of the child support order, the FOC may initiate court proceedings. During these court proceedings, a judge makes determinations regarding failure to comply with the terms of the original child support order.

Contempt of Court Penalties

When a noncustodial parent fails to pay child support on time, an FOC may initiate a contempt of court action. The parent ordered to pay child support must appear before the court and "show cause" as to why he is not in contempt of court -- this is called a "show cause hearing." Failure to appear may result in a bench warrant for arrest. Moreover, if the nonpaying parent is found in contempt of court after a show-cause hearing, Michigan's sentencing guidelines allow for up to 45 days in jail, or 90 days in jail for a second offense, and/or fines of up to $250.

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Posting Bond

If a parent is arrested pursuant to a bench warrant, Michigan law requires the parent to post a bond of a minimum of $500. Typically, the bond amount required is 25 percent of child support arrearages; if bond is not posted, the parent may remain incarcerated until his trial.

Criminal Nonpayment Penalties

According to Michigan's statutes, a parent may be charged with a felony for nonpayment of child support if the parent is willfully withholding support payments. Generally, nonpayment of child support may result in a felony conviction only if the parent repeatedly fails to make child support payments and willfully withholds those payments. If convicted of felony nonpayment, Michigan's sentencing guidelines allow a court to order the non-paying parent to spend up to four years in prison and/or to pay fines of up to $2,000.

Other Penalties

Michigan's primary method of collecting child support payments is via automatic paycheck deductions. However, if support payments cannot be obtained via automatic paycheck deductions, support may be collected by intercepting tax refunds. Furthermore, a non-paying parent in Michigan may face other penalties such as suspension of recreational and driver's licenses, property liens and a lower credit score as a result of reports to credit reporting agencies of arrearages.

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Penalties for Child Support Arrears in California


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Is There a Statute on Collecting Child Support in Michigan?

Section 722.3 of the Michigan Compiled Laws is the statute that obligates parents to support their minor children. Michigan courts may order a non-custodial parent to pay the custodial parent support for the care of their minor child. The goal of child support in Michigan is not to punish parents but rather to help parents establish a financial partnership for the sake of their minor children. Child support can include payment of the minor child's health care, child care and educational expenses.

Alabama Child Support Arrears Laws

Child support is awarded to a custodial parent to provide financial assistance with a child's basic needs, including food, clothing and shelter. Support is generally owed until the child turns 18. When a non-custodial parent does not pay as ordered, the owed support becomes past due, or in arrears. In Alabama, the Department of Human Resources' Child Support Enforcement Program aids custodial parents in the collection of child support arrearages.

Oregon Unpaid Child Support Penalties

Providing for a child's needs can be especially challenging for a single parent, especially when the parent isn't receiving regular child support payments. A child's need for shelter, transportation, food and clothing doesn't change just because a parent stops paying support. The Oregon Child Support Program can help a recipient parent collect child support. Oregon penalties for unpaid child support help motivate parents to stay current with their child support obligations.

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