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.
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.
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.