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Answers to frequently asked questions of the Oakland County Friend of the Court (FOC).

How do I request payment/support enforcement?

 

If you know where the payor works but payments are not being taken from the payor's paycheck, send a letter to FOC with the information and  request a Notice of Income Withholding (IWN).  FOC will begin the process for filing this notice to collect the current amount of support and a payment on the arrearage. Please supply as much information as possible concerning the payor's employer.

If you do not know where the payor works, or the payor is self-employed, write us a letter requesting we review the case for enforcement, or use our Request for Enforcement form. Please include the docket number and any information you believe would be helpful in enforcing the support order. 

How do I request a payment history for my case?

Parents who pay or receive child support in Michigan now have a convenient and secure Web site to review their payment and case information.  From this website, users may print their payment history at any time.  To access online payment summaries, amounts owed, scheduled hearing dates and other case information, parents must sign up for a MiCase ID.
 
Another way to receive a payment history is by calling our IVR at 248-858-1565 and after entering your SSN, pin and selecting the case for which you need information. You may then choose the "forms" option (3), then choose the option for a payment history (6) on your touch-tone phone. Payment records from the beginning of your case will be mailed to your address of record  within 24 hours. (Subsequent requests for a payment history will begin at the date of your first request).

You can also request the payment history by mailing or faxing a request to FOC. Your request will be processed as quickly as possible.

How can I collect the arrearage that is due to me?

If the payments are already being taken from the payor's paycheck but an arrearage exists, send a letter to FOC requesting that we increase the amount being deducted in order to collect the arrearage.

If the IWN payments have stopped, call or write for enforcement.

If you know of a settlement the payor will be receiving, bank accounts, or Michigan property the payor owns, write to the FOC and request a lien. Please provide as much information as possible, such as the bank name, address, account number and the legal description of the property.

If none of the above applies, write to us with both parties names and the docket number at:

Oakland County Friend of the Court
PO Box 436012
Pontiac, MI, USA, 48343-6012

Your case will be reviewed for the most suitable enforcement procedure. Often a show cause hearing will be scheduled. You will receive notice of that hearing approximately three weeks prior to the hearing. The payor will be ordered to attend this hearing and a bench warrant may be issued if he or she fails to attend. The payee should attend if possible, if not they should contact the court in writing.

How can I obtain a Year End Statement?

The Friend of the Court will mail a statement with the total amount of support paid for the year, to your address of record upon your written or phone request.
 
You may mail or fax your request to 248-858-0461. You may link to direct phone numbers of your assigned referee team.  If you do not know which Referee team you are assigned, you may now look up this information from the County Clerk website. When you identify your case, click on "Register of Action" to see the Referee assignment.
 
If you need a detailed payment history, please see the question above for information. 

How do I make my support payment to MISDU?

All support payments are receipted and distributed by MiSDU. It is very important to include required identifying information with your payment. Payments lacking this information may be returned to the payer. Individuals should use payment coupons mailed to them by MiSDU or include this information with the payment:
  1. Payer's full name
  2. Payer's SSN
  3. Docket county number:  63
  4. Docket Number (ie. 1999-111111-DS)
Mail your payment with the above information to:

Michigan SDU
P.O. Box 30351
Lansing, Michigan USA 48909-7851
 
MiSDU is also accepts online payments from your American Express, MasterCard, Discover or a bank account. Click here to link to the MiSDU website.

A Notice of Income Withholding was entered, why isn't it working?

If a Notice of Income Withholding was entered and it is not working, it is possible the party no longer works there (laid off, quit or fired) or the party is on workers' compensation for an injury sustained on the job or collecting unemployment benefits. In these situations, a new notice to withhold would need to be sent to the new source of income.

A new withholding could take 3-4 weeks to begin working. If the withholding is not working within this timeframe, we will contact the employer in writing for an explanation.

How do I get a Notice of Income Withholding started to have the child support taken from my pay?

A Notice of Income Withholding is started by the employer information, such as employer name and address, being submitted to FOC so the notice can be drawn up and sent to the employer payroll department. You should make the payments on your own to the MISDU until you see the deductions from your paycheck. See above on how to make your payment to MISDU online or by mail.

How do I modify the child support order?

Child support can be changed only if a new court order is signed by the court. If both parties agree to change the support a letter signed by both parties, and notarized, with the terms of the agreement can be sent to the FOC for preparation and entry of an order.

If there is no agreement the FOC will review your case once every 3 years upon written request. A party may also file a Motion to Modify Support with the court or with the FOC to request a modification of support.

Why am I not getting child support when it should be coming out of my ex-spouse's pay?

If you are not getting payments in accordance with a Notice of Income Withholding you should contact the FOC office. The case assistant or support specialist will contact the employer either by phone or correspondence to see if the payor is still employed. If the payor is not employed, further action will be decided by the Friend of the Court. If the payor is employed, the employer will be requested to give an explanation as to why the payments are not being sent in accordance with the Notice of Income Withholding.

What is the most convenient way to receive child support payments?

Direct Deposit of your support to your bank account is the most convenient way to receive your support.  Print and complete the Direct Deposit form, and fax or mail it back to the Michigan State Disbursement Unit, located in Lansing.
Please be aware that effective February 2006, the Michigan State Disbursement Unit must disburse all support payments electronically.  For those payees not enrolled in direct deposit, a debit card (Relia Card through U.S. Bank) will be issued upon the first payment.  For more information about your debit card, please see the related question below.  You may enroll in direct deposit at any time.

How do I get my PIN for the automated telephone system (IVR)?

Effective October 1, 2001 the automated telephone system requires you to enter your own social security number and the first time you call it will ask you to choose your four digit PIN. If when you call the system it asks you to enter your PIN, then one has been established for your social security number. If you have forgotten or do not know what the PIN is, you must submit a request form to MISDU requesting a PIN.  When MISDU receives your request form they will assign you a temporary PIN of the last four digits of your social security number. For more information on the Interactive Voice Response line click here.

What is the SMILE program?

Have a look at our SMILE Program overview, and also the SMILE Program Handbook for more information.  If you are signed up to attend a session, information regarding the date, time and location will be sent to you by mail.

How do I transfer my case from another county?

A case may be transferred by a party petitioning the court of original jurisdiction and obtaining an order. A case may not be transferred between two contiguous counties. Some county clerks have the form to petition, otherwise the requesting party must prepare one. The Oakland County Clerk requires a $130 transfer fee be paid to the county of original jurisdiction so they may include this required fee when mailing your file to our clerk for acceptance.

There is a bench warrant out for me, what do I do?

If you are the person paying, you may come to the Friend of the Court office without an appointment and see a referee from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday (except Wednesday between 8:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.). Also, call the Warrant department at 248-858-0479 to verify the warrant is still outstanding prior to coming in. You should bring with you proof of employment, or have some proposal prepared that indicates how you plan to pay to discuss with the referee in addition to a payment in the amount of your bond.

If you are the person receiving the support then you should call the Warrant Department at 248-858-0479 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday and furnish them with any new information.

Print and complete this Bench Warrant Information form, and fax or mail it back to the FOC office.

What should I tell the children about the divorce?

  • Do tell the children about the divorce together, if possible.
  • Children need to know, sometimes over and over again, how they will be affected by the divorce; where they will live, when they will see the other parent, friends and relatives and who will be taking care of them.
  • Do reassure children that they are not to blame for the divorce.
  • Answer the child's questions honestly, while avoiding unnecessary details. Do not place the blame on either parent.
  • Parents should encourage children to talk about their feelings, concerns and fears about the divorce.
  • Be an emotional support for your children, but do not rely on them to be an emotional support for you.
  • Accept the child's anger and mood swings. Consider involving the children in individual counseling or a support group (the SMILE Program offers these resources).
  • Children should be helped to accept the reality of the divorce and not be given false hope of a reconciliation. (4 days, 4 weeks, 4 months, 4 years after the divorce, sometimes after one or both parents have remarried, children are often hoping that the parents will get back together.)
  • Approach single parenting with a positive attitude and speak encouragingly about the future. Children need to know that you are strong and that they will be taken care of.

How can I help my children during and after the divorce?

Many of you have been airline passengers at one time or another. When the flight crew briefs you on safety procedures, they instruct you to put on your own oxygen mask before assisting your children in case of an emergency. They are telling you that in order to effectively help your children, you must first help yourself. The setting is different, but the message is the same. How can you help your children through the divorce? First, do take care of yourself.

Your life has changed dramatically. You may feel lonely, isolated and depressed.

Often if you initiated the divorce, you may find that family and friends do not recognize what a difficult time this is for you. Their attitude may be that this is what you want, why would it be painful for you? You both have experienced the death of a relationship and will be going through the various stages of grief and recovery. It may help to visit with family and friends often; talk to them on the phone.
  • Get involved in a divorce support group or individual therapy.
  • Expect that there will be times when nothing seems to be going right, but remember that things usually get better.
  • Develop new interests or hobbies, exercise, pamper yourself in whatever ways you can.
  • During separation and divorce, parents are trying to cope with increased responsibilities and being on your own. This is also a time when the children need more attention and affection. It may help to: (1) Ask family and friends for help with child care. Try to arrange special time with each child. Find an activity that you both enjoy; (2) At some point, you will be ready to socialize and meet new people. Children may feel left out, confused and angry. Children need to know that they are loved. Express your love and commitment to the children. But let them know that parents, as well as children, need time to do things that they enjoy. (3) Do not expose children to casual relationships with the opposite sex, especially right after the separation. If a serious relationship develops over time, introduce the person slowly into the children's lives.

What do the children need from me?

  • They need your unconditional love and support. They need to know that they will be taken care of.
  • They need predictability. Their world has changed drastically. They need familiar patterns and stable relationships. Maintain their usual schedules and family routines or develop new ones and stick to them.
  • Provide consistent contact with both parents and extended family members from both sides of the family.
  • Encourage the children to continue to participate in school and other activities, with both parents attending if possible.
  • Provide the children with personal space at home: a bed, a drawer, even just a small space in which to keep their belongings. Children are more likely to want to spend time with you if they are comfortable in your home. Ideally, children will feel that they have two homes, with two fully involved parents.

How can I encourage the relationship with the other parent?

  • Children do need a relationship with both parents. It's important for their identity and psychosocial development.
  • Stress the good points about the other parent and avoid name calling or blaming the other parent.
  • Keep family photos available, including photos of the other parent.
  • Allow your children to express their love for the other parent and talk about the experiences they have with the other parent.
  • If your children complain about the other parent, encourage them to take the complaint to the person responsible. You have no control over the other parent.
  • Encourage the other parent's involvement in school or other activities. Advise them of conferences, provide report cards and ask for their assistance with homework. If the custodial parent does not provide you with the information you want, get it yourself by contacting the school directly.
  • Assist the children in buying or making cards and gifts for the other parent when special occasions occur.
  • If you are not able to see the children regularly, call them, write, send cards, make tapes, just keep in touch.
  • Although it may be uncomfortable for you, invite the other parent to attend recitals, softball or soccer games, religious ceremonies and other important events.
  • Remember the best parts of your marriage and share these with your children. If children only hear negatives, they get a skewed view of marriage and it will have repercussions in their own relationships.
  • Try not to argue in front of the children. If you sense that the conversation is getting out of hand, end it and talk at another time or write to each other.
  • Use common courtesy and be civil to each other. If you are unable to be friendly, a least be businesslike in your dealing with each other. You are partners in parenting, and you will be for a long time.

How can I develop and maintain a workable parenting schedule that will be to everyone's advantage?

When shared parenting time works, it is to everyone's advantage. The children see both parents as often as possible, both parents are able to parent the children and spend quality time with them, and each parent has some time away from the children to do things that he or she enjoys. Spending a maximum amount of time with each parent is a positive step in helping the children adjust to the divorce.

In developing a parenting schedule, take into account the work schedules of both parents, school and other activities of the children, and the developmental needs of the children. Infants need a totally different schedule than teenagers.

The schedule should start out structured so that everyone knows what to expect and some patterns develop. Flexibility is encouraged. Try to allow the children to participate in sporting events, sleepovers and other activities, regardless of which home the children are in at the time. This will help to establish a sense of normality in both homes. Try to be flexible with the other parent as well. If a weekend switch is requested, try to work it out. Flexibility should work both ways.

It is crucial that parents are regular and consistent about parenting time. Children need to know that they will be made available for parenting time, picked up at scheduled times and returned on time.

Children may complain, become withdrawn or act out when it is time to go between homes. You may feel that something negative is going on at the other parent's home because of the children's behavior. This behavior is usually normal and not an indication that anything is wrong. Children miss the parent that they are not with and go through an adjustment when getting ready to leave each parent's home.

Be consistent and be on time when you pick up and return the child. Children need predictability.

What should I do if the child refuses to go with the other parent?

Let's look at some of the reasons a child may say they don't want to go with the other parent:
  • If the other parent has not seen the children for a while, the children may feel abandoned or rejected, resulting in anger towards that parent or a drop in self-esteem.
  • If the other parent is involved with a girlfriend or boyfriend, the child may see this person as a replacement of a parent. The child may not want to share their time with another person.
  • You may plan something exciting when the children are with the other parent. The message is "see what you will be missing while you are away."
  • The children may feel that they will not be loved when they return home...especially if they say they had a good time with the other parent.
  • The other parent may be involving the children in the issues of the divorce or may be putting the children in the position of feeling sorry for him or her.
  • A parent may be saying critical things about the other parent. Children resent this. They have feelings of loyalty to both parents. Also, any negative comments about either parent reflect on the children. They are a part of both of you.
  • The custodial parent may be saying negative things about the other parent, either directly to the children or indirectly through friends or relatives. Children often hear conversations not meant for their ears.
  • Older children usually do not want to spend long periods of time with either parent. They may resent not being able to be with their peers.
  • If parents become involved in arguing and fighting, children may feel that they have to take sides. Children generally take the side of the person they see as having the most power. That is usually the parent with whom they live. Children may refuse to see the other parent just to keep the peace.
  • Younger children may be very attached to the custodial parent and be afraid of separation. They may also be afraid that they won't be returned home, especially if they have heard the custodial parent express this fear.
We suggest that you encourage, even insist, that the children go. Reassure them that you will see them soon and speak positively about the time they will spend with the other parent.

How can I keep the children out of the middle?

  • Do keep children out of the middle.
  • Talk directly to each other about child related issues. If talking is not possible, communicate in writing.
  • Do not use children as messengers.
  • Do not ask the children what goes on in the other parent's home. This is a violation of the children's trust. Allow them to share what they think was important about their time with the other parent.
  • Do not argue in front of the children. Try to manage your feelings. If you can't, end the conversation and continue at another time.
  • You should not encourage or expect your children to take sides.
  • If the children say that the other parent lets them stay up late or eat lots of sweets, tell them that they should follow the rules of your household and that the other parent cannot be told what to do in his or her home.
  • A parent should not withhold the children from the other parent or refuse to pay child support. Children are entitled to financial support from both parents, as well as emotional support and frequent contact with both of you.

At what age can a child make a decision about which parent he/she wants to live with?

The law does not allow a child to make such a decision until age 18.

How do I "opt out" of receiving Friend of the Court enforcement services?

The State of Michigan has now provided a method by which to do so. Please review your rights regarding this provision by clicking here.

How do I update my Personal Information with FOC?

Please complete the Change in Personal Information Form and mail or fax to FOC.  This form may be submitted to update your name, address, driver's or occupational license information and social security number.  You must provide FOC with the required supporting documentation for the changes to be implemented.  Requirements are noted on the form.

How can I get more information about the debit cards?

For debit card questions, please contact:  toll free 1-877-464-3324
Changes in state law require MiSDU to disburse support payments electronically.

 

If you currently have a debit card, you may choose at any time to enroll in direct deposit, where your support will be directed to the bank account of your choice.  For questions regarding usage of the debit card and associated fees, please contact the number listed above.