August is Child Support Month in Michigan

By Erin Lincoln
The Michigan Child Support Program strives to help families support each other both financially and emotionally. In recognition of the tireless efforts of child support workers, employers, state and county departments, hospitals and community partners to support Michigan children and families, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has declared August 2021 as Child Support Month in Michigan.

Michigan’s Child Support Program provides professional, non-judgmental services to help mothers, fathers, grandparents, or guardians get the financial resources they need for their children. It also provides families of all income levels with assistance in obtaining financial support and medical insurance coverage for their children, helps locate parents, establishes paternity, opens and manages child support cases, and collects/disburses support payments.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused dramatic shifts in child support collections in 2020 as many payers’ income fluctuated due to job loss and economic instability. Overall collections increased, due to surges in temporary sources like unemployment and IRS intercepts from the first round of stimulus payments. Collections on current obligations from employment income decreased.

“2020 brought distinct challenges for Michigan’s Child Support Program to overcome in order to serve those who depend on us,” said Erin Frisch, OCS director. “In many ways, these challenges opened doors to new methods of service delivery for families and partners across the state, which will enhance service for years to come. As Michigan families have faced crises brought about by the pandemic, our commitment to ensuring they have the resources they need has never wavered.”

The Wayne County Friend of the Court (FOC) has been in existence since 1919.  As a centenarian, the Wayne County FOC has withstood the Great Influenza epidemic of 1918 and is currently preserving through the COVID-19 to ensure child support services are delivered.  Wayne County’s FOC has implemented various changes to meet the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Friend of the Court hearings are all held virtually via Zoom, which provides a benefit to those with hearings, as they can do so from the comfort of their home or work, and without the cost of travel to the Court. The filing of documents can be done via email so that clients are not restricted by office hours or hindered by travel to and from Court.

The Friend of the Court has implemented virtual customer service appointments for clients needing information on a Friend of the Court case. The Friend of the Court has implemented new email addresses for virtual communication with staff and has also taken advantage of the two-way communication through the MiChildSupport portal. All of these changes have been made at the Friend of the Court in an effort to meet the needs of families and keeping everyone safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Child Support Month also brings a change in leadership within the Family Domestic Division at Third Circuit Court. Chief Judge Timothy M. Kenny has appointed Judge Melissa A. Cox to serve in the position of Presiding Judge as of Monday, August 23, 2021.   Judge Cox is succeeding Judge Kathleen M. McCarthy who served as the Presiding Judge and is now moving to the Civil Division.

Judge Cox was elected to the bench in 2016.  She was a family law practitioner and has served in the Domestic Relations Division since her election. Asked about her recent appointment, she responded:  “I am honored to be the newly appointed presiding judge of the Family Division and am likewise eager to continue the great work achieved by the leadership of our court in establishing and providing the services necessary to effectuate the support of the children and families of Wayne County. Together, the public servants of Friend of the Court and the Third Circuit Court confronted and tackled the unique challenges created by the 2020/2021 pandemic to ensure that our child support services, processes, and vital functions continued in order to assist struggling families and children during the crisis year. I look forward to leading the Division in our efforts to continuously create new and better ways to promote the contributions of all parents to the financial and emotional well-being of their children.”

During the month of August and every other month, the Wayne County Friend of the Court endeavors to improve services to the public in an effort to strengthen families.


Erin Lincoln is the deputy court administrator for the Wayne County Friend of the Court.