Rules for child support, paternity testing clarified

Gov. Rick Snyder recently signed legislation streamlining requirements related to child support and paternity testing to save costs and hassles for the state and Michiganders.

“This legislation keeps our child support system running efficiently to ensure Michigan children and families have access to the benefits they deserve,” Snyder said. “Eliminating confusion within the law will help increase the effectiveness of our system while reducing unnecessary court costs.”

Snyder signed legislation clarifying provisions related to determining paternity in Michigan. The 13-bill package, sponsored by state Reps. Cindy Denby, Tom Hooker, Ken Kurtz, Robert Kosowski, Roger Victory, Klint Kesto, Rick Outman, Bruce Rendon, Matt Lori and Marcia Hovey-Wright, clarifies and streamlines paternity regulations to eliminate unnecessary time and hassles.

Reforms within the legislation include:

• Establishing that a positive genetic test is a conclusive method of determining paternity, if certain conditions are met and without requiring a court determination.

• Specifying the conditions under which a man can be considered a biological father of a child.

• Establishing a new act, the Summary Support and Paternity Act, allowing for new streamlined methods for establishing paternity and child support orders through the court system.

• Allowing local governments to assign all support-related functions to the same office and/or regionalize services related to paternity and support.

• Giving parents who are struggling to make child support payments the ability to apply for alternative options for payment, monitored by the courts.

• Authorizing the courts to consider the child’s best interest when revoking parental rights.

• Ensuring that child support is paid before assistance is granted through the Family Independence Program.

• Allowing parents to petition to the court to show that a biological father is not actually the child’s parent.

Snyder also signed Senate bills to clarify and broaden requirements for child support payments in Michigan.

Provisions within the legislation include:

• Allowing prosecution for nonsupport when it can be determined that the support payer was aware of the case.

• Saving times for courts and law enforcement by consolidating certain child support provisions into one section of law.

• Decreasing local costs in enforcing and managing spousal support cases.

• Permitting the court to assess costs for the enforcement of spousal support if not reimbursable through federal programs.

• Ensuring fees are only collected in one area of the child support program.

• Redirecting child support to new relative or caregiver when a child is placed outside of the home, regardless of technical legal responsibility.

• Moving the authority for child support allocation and determination to the Office of Child Support, instead of the State Court Administrative Office .

• Updating responsibilities for child support agencies to match the state’s current structure and practices.