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How can past-due child support be collected?

When another person does something that harms others, many Detroit residents believe that the person should be held accountable for the person's wrongdoing. This is especially true when the wrongdoing is committed against children by a parent.

Michigan law provides many ways of holding others accountable when they fail to follow their obligations. For instance, in a child support dispute, there are several penalties that can be enforced when a parent who owes child support has delinquent payments.

Previously, this blog discussed the ability of a payor's license to be suspended following nonpayment of child support, including driver's licenses and professional licenses. There are many other means of enforcing support orders beyond license suspensions, including methods that seek to recoup the amount of support that is owed.

For example, when a parent has either current or past-due support, an income withholding order can be implemented to deduct child support payments directly from the parent's paycheck. This is a measure that is implemented for many new and modified child support orders, unless another method of payment is agreed upon by the parties.

Once the parent reaches a certain level of past-due payments, known as arrearages, the parent's federal and state tax refunds can be intercepted in order to satisfy the arrearages. Currently, this threshold is at $150 for state tax refunds, while the threshold for federal tax refunds depends on whether the case involves cash assistance.

Other means of going after the payor's property are also available. For example, liens can be placed against the person's real or personal property. In other cases, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order can be used against a private pension account. Accordingly, it is important for parties to understand all enforcement methods that may be used to satisfy past-due support.

Source: Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, "Enforcing Support," accessed on Dec. 5, 2015

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