Will They Take Money Out of my Paycheck if I Don’t Pay Child Support?

A black and white picture of a man smoking a cigarette and holding a gun up, as if he's about to rob you at gunpoint.
It may feel like you’re being robbed, but the law allows the state to garnish your wages if you don’t pay your child support.

If you’ve been ordered by the court to pay child support, then you need to understand that it’s not optional – it’s a court order. This isn’t a judge telling you it would be nice to help out your ex, or that supporting your kids would be the right thing to do. This is a judge ordering you to pay a specific amount, by a specific date every month. And failure to comply with a legal order from a judge has consequences. Like having your paycheck garnished!

What happens when you don’t pay child support in Michigan?

Consequences, you ask? What kind of consequences? Well, on the more extreme end of things you could be sent to jail for not paying your child support. And when the outstanding amount reaches a certain quantity (think: thousands) you could even be charged with a felony and end up in prison! But before it gets that far, the more likely scenario is wage garnishment.

What is wage garnishment, and what does it mean?

Wage garnishment is also known as income withholding, and it means that if you have a legal job, the State can deduct portions of your paycheck before it reaches you. The way it works is, your employer deducts the allotted child support amount before issuing you your check and sends that money directly to the Michigan State Disbursement Unit (MiSDU) so that it can be distributed.

When are they likely to take money from your paycheck?

Having your employer deduct the amount from your paycheck before it comes to you is a method used to collect both current and past-due amounts of child support. In fact, current Michigan law requires that all new and modified child support orders include income withholding unless the parents agree on a different method.

What about taking money from other forms of income?

It’s important to remember that your paycheck from work isn’t the only check the State can collect child support from. Other legal sources of income, like unemployment benefits, tax refund checks, worker’s compensation claims, insurance claims, social security benefits, and even money from independent contracting work could potentially be garnished for child support. If it’s a legal and documented source of income, the state could choose to garnish it for unpaid child support. 

Figuring out child support can be confusing and frustrating!

Child support is often a contentious subject for divorcing couples, and they need a lot of help to navigate all the legal requirements and expectations. If you have questions or concerns about your own child support, call us at 866 766 5245. The skilled family law attorneys at The Kronzek Firm have spent decades helping the families of mid-Michigan and the surrounding areas with addressing child support issues, and modifying orders when the time comes. We’re here to help you too!