RESERVE AND NATIONAL GUARD
Operation Enduring Freedom and other international conflicts will require that many parents serving part-time in the National Guard and Reserves be called to active military duty, either at home or abroad. First and foremost, the Friend of the Court Bureau thanks you for your service to our country.
The Friend of the Court Bureau also wants to assist parents during the transition to active military service by ensuring that their children's court-ordered support payments are not disrupted. The following information will explain the child support rules that affect active-duty military personnel; for example, those that govern the review and adjustment of child support orders, medical support, and passport requests.
For good advice on how to reduce the emotional stress experienced by a deployed soldier's children and other family members, click on the U.S. Department of Defense links on this page.
What to Do If You Are on Active Duty
If you are a servicemember on active duty, there are certain requirements you must follow with regard to court-ordered child support. You must report your change of address and employment status to your county friend of the court office. This is especially critical for parents whose child support payments are currently being withheld from their civilian paychecks.
- Tell the friend of the court that you have been called to active military duty.
- If your child support is deducted from your paycheck, have your employer contact the friend of the court.
- If your income will be lower while on active duty, ask the friend of the court if you are eligible to have your support order modified to reflect your new, lower income.
- If your military deployment requires a passport and you owe more than $5,000 in child support arrearages, contact the friend of the court to discuss special payment options that will preserve your eligibility for obtaining a passport.
- If you are required to provide medical coverage for your child and it is not available from your employer while you are on active duty, enroll your child in TRICARE, the health coverage plan for military dependents.
If an employer is withholding part of an employee's income for child support payments and the employee is called to active military duty, the employer must contact the friend of the court office that issued the income withholding notice. The employer should specify the date of activation so that the friend of the court can issue a new income withholding notice to the proper military branch. By providing this information, the employer helps the employee avoid a lapse in the payments to the children.
When the employee is called to active military duty, the employer must retain the previous income withholding notice so that the withholding of civilian income can resume when the employee returns to the civilian job.
On behalf of America's children, we thank employers for the vital role they play in the child support enforcement program. By withholding child support payments from employees' paychecks and enrolling children in their parents' health insurance plan, employers help ensure the financial security of children and families.
Child Support Modification for Emergency Military Service
MCL 552.615a allows a military service adjustment of child support orders for a payer called to emergency military service. Emergency military service means that the payer of child support is:
- A member of the armed forces reserves or national guard and
- Called into active military duty for a period of more than 30 days.
To request a military service adjustment of a support order, the service member must:
- Provide a written request for the adjustment to the office of the friend of the court (FOC) and
- Provide information (documentation/verification) showing both the military pay while on active duty and the civilian income upon which the existing support order is based.
To calculate a military adjustment, multiply the payer's child support obligation by a fraction that represents the portion of pay the service member receives on duty in relation to the income on which the child support is based. The fraction numerator is the payer's income during emergency military service and the denominator is the payer's income upon which the support was originally based. See example below.
Payer's current support obligation: $350 per month.
Payer's income upon which the support obligation is based: $38,000 per year.
Payer's income while on emergency military service: $25,000 per year.
The military service adjustment will be calculated by:
--------------------------------- = .66
.66 x $350 per month (current support) = $231 per month adjusted support
Qualifying service members do not become eligible for a military service adjustment until the friend of the court receives a request. If the payer makes the adjustment request on or before 56 days from the date the payer is called to emergency military service, the adjustment will take effect beginning on the date of the commencement of emergency military service. If the payer requests the adjustment more than 56 days after the payer is called to emergency military service, the adjustment will be effective on the date of the written request.
Upon receipt of the request for a military service adjustment, the FOC will calculate the adjustment and notify all parties of the following:
- The adjustment amount,
- The effective date of the adjustment,
- The right to object to the adjustment amount within 21 days, and
- The place and manner for filing objections.
If a party objects to the military service adjustment, the adjustment remains in effect until the objection is resolved or until 35 days after the payer's emergency military service ends, whichever is sooner.
If a party files an objection, the FOC should schedule a hearing before a judge or referee to determine if the adjustment should remain in effect, be modified, or be set aside. The hearing shall be held as soon as possible, and the payer may appear at the hearing by any means authorized under Supreme Court rules. [MCR 3.210 and 3.215] If the hearing cannot be held during the emergency military service, the court should do one of the following:
- Hold the hearing no later than 35 days after the payer's emergency service ends.
- Conduct a support review when the payer returns from military service. Substitute the notice of adjustment for the petition for modification of support to determine an effective date for modification.
- Schedule a meeting between the parties when the payer returns to resolve the dispute over whether the adjustment should be set aside or modified.
For more information, please contact your county FOC office.