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New state laws intended to streamline Michigan's child support system

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

More than a dozen new laws take effect next year which should speed up thechild supportprocess in Michigan.

The State of Michigan collects more than a billion dollars a year in child support.

Erin Frisch is the director of the child support office for the state of Michigan. 

She says the new laws should streamline the process of establishing paternity and starting child support.

“Ultimately reducing the amount of past due support that’s owed in the state of Michigan,” says Frisch.

The changes to the state’s child support laws include:

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

·  Saving time for courts and law enforcement by consolidating certain child support provisions into one section of law

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

·  Decreasing local costs in enforcing and managing spousal support cases

·  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

Other changes recently signed into law will address problems tied with establishing paternity.

“Timely establishment of child support obligations which hopefully will lead to more consistent payment from non-custodial parents,” says Frisch.

The changes in state paternity laws 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

“This legislation keeps our child support system running efficiently to ensure Michigan children and families have access to the benefits they deserve,” says Gov. Rick Snyder. 

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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