What Happens if I Can’t Pay my Child Support in Michigan?

During these uncertain times, when many people are struggling to find jobs that pay them a living wage, and government assistance checks are on the verge of drying up, finances can be a tricky subject. So for those who are having difficulty making ends meet, paying child support in addition to all your regular bills can seem overwhelming. In some people’s cases, it’s almost impossible. 

A close up of a man's upper jeans, where he is showing that he has no money by pulling his pocket linings out.

But what happens if you stop paying? Or skip a few payments? Are there penalties for people who can’t pay their child support in Michigan? If so, how serious are they? We understand your concerns, and we’d like to help alleviate some of the fears you may have by explaining exactly what you’re up against. It may not be the answers you want, but at least you’ll know the facts and can be properly prepared.

The state may garnish your wages.

Wage garnishment (which is also known as income withholding) means that if you have a legal job, the State can deduct portions of your paycheck before you receive it. Essentially, your employer will be required by the state to deduct the allotted child support amount before issuing you your check. Then they send that money directly to the Michigan State Disbursement Unit (MiSDU) so that it can be distributed along with other collected child support.

Wage garnishment is the standard method used by the state of Michigan to collect both current, and past due child support payments. In fact, current Michigan law requires that all new and modified child support orders are collected using income withholding, unless the parents agree on a different method of payment.

Other forms of income can be garnished as well.

Think you’re off the hook because you don’t have a job right now so you’re not getting a paycheck? Unfortunately for you it doesn’t work that way. Just because you aren’t earning a regular income, doesn’t mean you’re not required to pay your child support payments. There are many other forms of income, however irregular, that the state can garnish as well.

For example, your federal and state income taxes can be garnished. Also, your unemployment benefits, worker’s compensation claims, insurance claims, social security benefits, and even money from independent contracting work could all potentially be garnished for child support. Even your stimulus check isn’t off the hook! If it’s a legal and documented source of income, the state may choose to garnish it for unpaid child support. 

There could be even more serious consequences down the road…

Not paying your child support for a long time, and allowing the amount to build up until it becomes substantial (think thousands of dollars), can actually get you arrested! You could be charged with a felony and put in prison. It may sound ridiculous, but remember – child support isn’t just something kind you do to help out with your kids. It’s a court order put in place by a judge, so not obeying it will have serious consequences!

If you have questions about your child support agreement, or need help with that and other issues during your divorce, call The Kronzek Firm at 866 766 5245. Our skilled and experienced family law attorneys have been working with the people of mid-Michigan for decades, helping to navigate the complexities of the divorce process, and set them up for success in the future. Over the years we’ve helped many people, and we can help you too.