The Family Support Division of the Prosecutor’s Office is a part of the Child
Support Enforcement (CSE) Program, established in 1975 under Title IV-D of the
Social Security Act, to ensure that both parents financially support their
In cooperation with the Michigan Department of Human Services Office
of Child Support (DHS/OCS), we serve residents of Alger County by
establishing paternity and/or obtaining child support. Services are available
for families receiving public assistance or to families who do not receive
assistance but apply for our services through DHS/OCS.
Our office hours are 8:00 am to noon and 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. Monday -
The Family Support Division (FSD) only handles cases that are referred by the
Michigan Office of Child Support (OCS). Referrals are generated in two ways:
- If you apply for public assistance through the Michigan Department of
Human Services and the other parent of the child is absent from the home, an
automatic referral goes to OCS. OCS then makes a referral to the Family
- You can ask for a referral to the Family Support Division by contacting
OCS at 1-866-540-0008 or by completing the
IV-D Child Support Services Application / Referral. You do not have to be on public assistance to request child support from
an absent parent.
Once the referral is received by the Family Support Division, we will send
you a letter with an appointment time and a questionnaire.
Please fill out
the questionnaire and bring the completed
questionnaire to your appointment.
If you do not go to your appointment, you may have your DHS
benefits cut or diminished for non-cooperation.
You will meet with an employee of the FSD. He/she will give you a
general explanation of how a child support case is handled and you can ask any
questions you might have. The employee will take information from you and
leave papers for you to sign.
The lawsuit is then filed with the court and copies of the papers are mailed
to the absent parent by certified mail. If service by certified mail is not
successful, personal service by a process server/deputy sheriff will be
Once the papers are served, the absent parent has a time limit in which to
respond to the lawsuit. It is his/her obligation to keep the court informed of
his/her address and to respond to requests for information. If he/she does not
participate in the case, an order of support can be entered by “default”.
Service of the papers on the defendant gives the court power to enter orders
even if the absent parent does not cooperate.
If you are receiving public assistance, you must cooperate with seeking a
support order or your benefits could be reduced or eliminated. If you are not receiving public assistance, you
do not have to seek a support order; however, many parents shortchange their
children by agreeing to an inadequate support amount. You would be wise to have
child support determined using the Michigan Child Support Guidelines to make
sure you are getting a fair amount.
HOW IS THE AMOUNT OF CHILD SUPPORT DETERMINED?
The FSD makes recommendations to the court as to what the child support
amount (if any) should be. Michigan State Law has a Child Support Formula that
is used to calculate support. FSD and the court must use this formula. The
formula is mathematical and is written into computer software used by FSD in
generating support recommendations. The formula takes into consideration each
parent’s income or potential income, child care costs, overnight visits the
absent parent has with the child, and whether the parties are supporting
children from other relationships.
It is the obligation of everyone to support their own children. If a parent
is unemployed, the court will determine if the parent has the ability to earn
and their income will be set according to their ability. This is called
If you have a child and are getting public assistance, and no legal father
has been established, you must name the person you feel is most likely to be the
father. Legal fatherhood exists when the father has signed an Affidavit of
Paternity or you were married to the father at the time of
The FSD then files a lawsuit to determine paternity. The papers are signed
at your meeting with FSD personnel and are served in the same manner as a
support case. The papers served on the alleged father (called a “putative
father”) contain a letter requesting he participate in a genetic (DNA) test.
The genetic test consists of collecting DNA samples from the mother, father and
child by swabbing the insides of their cheeks using Q-tips. The swabs are sent
to a certified DNA laboratory for testing. The test will either exclude the
potential father or will show a 99+% chance he is the father. A 99+%
probability of paternity is considered legally conclusive evidence of
If the paternity of the father is proven by the genetic test, he is requested
to sign an “Order of Filiation” which will make him the legal father. If he
refuses to sign, a court hearing is scheduled and the results of the genetic
test will be shown to the judge.
Once fatherhood is established, a child support order is sought by the FSD.
Many factors affect how long the process takes. Two of the biggest are how
long it takes to find the absent parent and serve him/her and how cooperative
both parties are in providing income and other data needed for a child support
No, in such circumstances there must be a court order determining the child
is not the product of the marriage before a paternity of the biological father
can be established. Your husband is the legal father and has an obligation to
pay support until a court rules he is not the legal father.
No. The FSD is not allowed to get involved in child
custody or visitation disputes. You can file a child custody or visitation
motion in a child support case. Forms for filing are available at the
Alger County Friend of The Court Office.
Our office can file a case for paternity and/or child support even if the
absent parent lives in another state. In some cases, when that party is a former
Michigan resident or other factors exist, we may still be able to file a case in
If there are not sufficient ties to the State of Michigan, an action is filed
under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA). The papers are prepared
in our office, filed with our court and forwarded to the state where the absent
parent resides. The final court Order must be obtained in the other state.
Although we process interstate cases right away, we cannot control the time
it takes another state to obtain an Order. Our office will monitor the other
state’s efforts according to federal regulations (every 90 days) and contact you
if additional information is either received or required. It is important that
you keep us informed of any changes in your address, phone number, employment,
or other circumstances that may affect your case.
The Family Support Division does not collect child support. Court orders are
given to the Friend of the Court to collect. They have laws that permit them to
get wages assigned for purposes of child support. For more information call the
Friend of the Court at (906) 387-4636.
Sometimes yes. If neither party is getting public assistance for the child,
the FSD would not get involved unless a party requests it. If public assistance
is involved, the FSD may file a “Motion to Intervene” in the case to assure
child support is ordered.
A court can order “back support” but they are usually reluctant to do so.
The reason is that a back order often puts the absent parent in arrears right
from the start. Courts prefer to have the child support obligation start
without the absent parent being “in the hole”.
Back support is difficult to calculate because it must be based on the income
and circumstances as they existed in the past. Therefore, data on past income
and other circumstances must be collected to make a recommendation.
Some factors that might cause a court to consider issuing a back support
- Did the absent parent slow the process of getting a support order by
non-cooperation? If he/she did, back support is more likely.
- Did the absent parent know of his obligation to pay but didn’t do anything
to help the custodial parent with the child? If he/she did know, back support
is more likely.
- Did the custodial parent ask for support? If you did, back support is
- Did the absent parent flee or not keep in contact with the custodial
parent while knowing he/she should help with support? If he/she did, back
support is more likely.
- Did he/she have a job or income during the time period for which back
support is being requested? If he/she did, back support is more likely.