Did you know there is a question and answer for that?

By Marie E. Matyjaszek

When I’m holding a hearing, or helping walk-in clients at the Friend of the Court, I’ve noticed that some information I provide comes as a surprise to them. So, I have put together a list of “did you knows” to better educate those utilizing the Friend of the Court child support system.

Did you know the FOC is not the entity that automatically starts your support case? 

The Office of Child Support (OCS) and the family division of your county’s prosecutor commence the proceedings. Of course, you can file on your own or via an attorney as well.

Did you know the FOC has temporary payment coupons so you can pay your child support obligation before the income withholding order (IWO) is processed with your employer?

This is particularly important to prevent an accumulation of arrears – you can mail your payments directly to the Michigan State Disbursement Unit using the payment coupon. The amount will then be credited to your account before the IWO is effective. It can take an average of four to six weeks for the IWO to start pulling support out of your paycheck, so staying on top of it will help everyone out in the long run.

Did you know you can choose how you are paid support?

You can receive it via direct deposit into a bank or checking account, or added to a state provided debit card. 

Did you know the payee of child support can issue you a direct credit for any support you have paid him or her directly?

Like everything else related to the law, there’s a form for that, and you can get it at the FOC. Each county is different, but Washtenaw County has you fill out the form, sign it and if possible, have the payee sign too. A case manager will verify the direct credit with the payee before modifying the account balance. 

This form can also be used to waive any arrears owed to the payee – we recognize that support may come in the form of diapers, wipes, new school clothes, etc., and if the payee wants to acknowledge receipt of those items in the form of a credit or waiver of money owed, she or he can do so. 

Did you know if you have had more than $2,500 in arrears at any point in the life of your case, a hold is issued on your passport?

Even if you reduce the arrears to zero, you still have to contact OCS/FOC and request that the hold be removed.

Did you know there is an arrears forgiveness program relative to monies owed to the state of Michigan? 

This program applies to the time period when the custodial parent was on cash assistance from the state. Fill out the application and list your reasons for inability to pay this particular arrearage amount – common reasons are history of incarceration, inability to work, receiving SSI/SSD, currently receiving state assistance, custody has changed, etc. Once the application is reviewed, you may be able to have this amount erased from your balance. 

Did you know the FOC has a plethora of other free paperwork you may need to file motions or ask for assistance?

You can request packets such as motions regarding custody, parenting time, child support, parenting time assistance, request for show cause, various blank orders like uniform support orders, and the paperwork needed to answer any of the above motions. We also provide suspension of fee affidavits – if you are unable to pay the filing fee, it’s possible that it can be waived.

The FOC is actually a great resource, despite the bad rap it is sometimes given. Just ask your question, and you may be pleasantly surprised at the answer.


The author is an Attorney Referee at the Washtenaw County Friend of the Court. Email her at matyjasz@hotmail.com.