Handling a felony non-payment of child or spousal support case - Michigan

March 17, 2020 - Categories: Legal Articles, Michigan

WHAT CAN HAPPEN IF I GET BEHIND ON CHILD SUPPORT OR SPOUSAL SUPPORT IN MICHIGAN?

We help many people in Michigan, Illinois, and Arizona with their child support and spousal support (alimony) cases, including filing motions to lower or increase support, cancel or lower arrears (past-due support), or enforce support payments by the other party. We also help people in these states to deal with the consequences of non-payment of support, including criminal consequences.

If you get significantly behind in child support or spousal support in Michigan, the state can take many actions against you to collect, including:

  • automatically withholding income from your paychecks;
  • taking your tax refunds;
  • issuing a show cause/bench warrant;
  • putting a lien or levy against real or personal property, financial assets, or insurance claims;
  • suspending your driver's license;
  • reporting on your credit report;
  • denying your passport;
  • pulling money out of your retirement accounts or pension funds via a QDRO or EDRO;
  • adding surcharges to your amount due;
  • referring the case the county prosecutor, who may charge the person who owes support with the crime of felony non-support.

FELONY NON-SUPPORT OF PAYMENT OF CHILD SUPPORT OR SPOUSAL SUPPORT

If you get behind more than $5,000.00 in either child support OR spousal support, you could be charged with a felony by the Michigan Attorney General and/or local county prosecutor's office. (MCL 750.165). Under this statute, "If the court orders an individual to pay support for the individual's former or current spouse, or for a child of the individual, and the individual does not pay the support in the amount or at the time stated in the order, the individual is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 4 years or by a fine of not more than $2,000.00, or both."

HOW TO GET YOUR CASE DISMISSED, WARRANT DROPPED, AND EXTRADITION CANCELLED

If you have been arrested in another part of Michigan, or another state, for non-payment of support in Michigan, we can help you to possibly get the warrant, charges, and extradition dismissed, and you released and back to work asap.

To do this, Michigan generally requires an up-front payment of 50% of arrears owed, via wire-transfer. In some unique cases, we have actually been able to get that percentage much lower, but your payment will have to be substantial. The instructions to wire the money to Michigan to pay that payment are below. 

In addition, you would have to commit to paying a monthly payment (as low as $100 per month in some cases), plus your regular child support payment amount (e.g. if you still support children under 18, or have a spousal support order still in place), so that you don't end up right back in trouble again.

NEGOTIATING A PLEA DEAL

If you cannot come up with 50% or a substantial payment that the state would accept, then the state of Michigan will still consider a much lower initial payment, and a payment plan, as well as letting you get out of jail and back to work.

However, the state will require you to be extradited first to Michigan, and appear for arraignment, where you would plea Not Guilty. Within about a week after the arraignment, there will be a "Pre-Trial Hearing," which is the first opportunity to enter a plea deal.

Between the Arraignment and the Pre-Trial Hearing, your attorney with Access Legal Care will be in regular contact with the Attorney General's office, prosecutor, and/or State investigator, to try to work out a plea deal which you can then accept in court at the Pre-trial hearing. Often, if a plea deal is granted and accepted, you will then be released from jail so you can get back to work, but you must return for the final Sentencing hearing in about a month.

LOWERING CHARGES TO A MISDEMANOR

In most plea deals, there is an opportunity to have your charges reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor. The difference between the two plea offers is usually in the amount of up-front payment you can come up with, and the amount of monthly payment you can make during a probationary term. 

If your up-front payment is large enough, and your monthly payment that you can afford to pay, is large enough, then you may be able to enter into a plea deal in which you pay the up-front amount prior to pre-trial (by wire-transfer, see below), and then agree to a period of probation in which you pay a large monthly payment towards arrears. Once probation is over, you must still make payments, but the payment might be lower than the agreed-upon probation payment. 

If you can comply with these terms, then your felony charges will be reduced to Misdemeanor Attempted Non-Payment of Support once you complete probation.

FELONY NON-SUPPORT PLEA DEAL WITH PROBATION

If you cannot come up with a large enough up-front payment and monthly payments, then you will end up with a felony on your record. However, with a decent up-front payment and promised monthly payment, you could still be released quickly from jail after your plea is entered, and allowed to return to work. As long as you make all the payments (plus your regular support amount), then you will remain out of jail on probation and can get back to work.

WIRE TRANSFER INSTRUCTIONS

All plea deals, whether the 50% dismissal plea, the misdemeanor plea, or the felony-probation plea, require an up-front payment wired to the State of Michigan Disbursement Unit. The instructions (current as of the date this article is written) are below:

1. Go to your bank, ask to do a wire transfer.

2. Fill out their wire transfer form and include this info:

Your Name
County of Case
Your Case Number

3. Wire transfer to this account:

Routing Number, Fifth Third Bank: 042000314

Account Number, State of Michigan: 7162307131

Fifth Third Bank
5620 South Pennsylvania Ave.
Lansing, MI 48911
517-394-6406

4. ONCE WIRED, HAVE THE BANK FAX A COPY OF THE WIRE TRANSFER FORM CONFIRMATION TO: 517-335-5328

5. Have your attorney confirm with the Attorney General's Office, Prosecutor, and/or Investigator that their records show payment, at least one day prior to extradition (for dismissal) or arraignment (for plea after extradition)

6. Note: This is NOT the method to make any future child support payments, those payments should be mailed to the Michigan State Disbursement Unit at: Department of Human Services, MISDU, PO Box 30352, Lansing, MI 48909-7851 or paid online at the MISDU website.

NEXT STEPS AFTER WIRE TRANSFER

After your wire transfer is confirmed, if your plea is for outright "dismissal," then the charges will all be dropped, warrant dismissed, extradition cancelled, and you will be released from jail. 

If your case is a misdemeanor or felony plea deal, then after your wire transfer is confirmed, you will go to the Pre-trial hearing, enter the plea deal on the record, and then often be released right after that, with instructions to return at sentencing.

At the sentencing hearing, you will be sentenced exactly as the plea deal was agreed. If you have not been released by now, you will be released after the sentencing hearing.

You are then paid up through that month. Starting the next month, you must not only pay your regularly-ordered support amount, but also the additional amount that you agreed to pay towards your arrears. 

If you fail to do so, you could be charged again, arrested, and the process starts all over again. Next time, however, you may not get a plea deal at all, and if you do, it will certainly not be as generous.

MOTION TO LOWER SUPPORT

Although you must continue to pay your regularly-ordered support amount, PLUS your monthly arrears amount, we can still help you to get your support lowered in many cases, if your finances and prior order justify it and allow it. If so, ask us how to to help you file a motion to modify support. 

If support gets lowered by court-order, then the amount you must pay monthly will also be lower because you must then only pay your new (lower) regular support amount, plus the agreed-upon monthly amount towards arrears.

HOW TO GET LEGAL HELP

Access Legal Care provides a free legal consultation and affordable legal help for people who want to lower, raise, or modify their child support or spousal support. We also help people to defend themselves against felony support charges in criminal court.

If you would like us to help you with your child support or spousal support case, please schedule a free phone appointment with an attorney at https://www.accesslegalcare.com/schedule-a-phone-appointment/

We hope to be able to help you!