How do I establish paternity and/or child support when the other parent is in another state or country?
A UIFSA (Uniform Interstate Family Support Act) lawsuit can be filed against the non-custodial parent who lives in another state or country. Providing you are a county resident, the case is initiated here and is then forwarded to the state or country where the absent parent resides. This law can be used to establish a support order, establish paternity and a support order, or when you already have a support order in this county and the payer of support has moved out of state. These cases usually can take months or even years to complete since we are relying on out of state services. They are worth the effort though and they cost you nothing! Cases in which a support order has already been granted in this county and the payer has left the state are not handled by the Family Support Division. Those are handled by the Friend of the Court (FOC).
Where do I begin?
On cases in which an initial support order is being requested, or establishment of paternity is sought, you must contact the Support Specialist at the DHS Office of Child Support. The specialist will then send a referral to the Family Support Division of the Prosecutors Office. If you are currently receiving any type of public assistance, then you are required to cooperate or you may lose some or all of your benefits. However, the receipt of public assistance benefits IS NOT a requirement to be eligible for legal help on these matters.
How is the case started?
The Family Support Division will contact you. We will send you a questionnaire to fill out and set up an interview. At the interview, you will review and sign legal documents. The papers are then filed with the Family Court, where a case number and Judge will be assigned. After the case is filed, it will be forwarded to the other state or country.
The case is sent to the Central Registry in the state, or country, where the absent parent lives. They review the case to make certain that all necessary information is included. It is then forwarded to the county where the absent parent resides. Obviously, this can take several weeks or even months. The county will then serve the absent parent with the papers, so it is very important accurate address information is obtained for the absent parent.
How is the case completed?
Once the other state locates the absent parent and follows the procedure required in its courts, then support, and possibly paternity, will be ordered. If paternity needs to be established, it is necessary to obtain DNA samples from the child and the parents in their respective locations, As in paternity cases, support orders are entered if the test results are positive. Court ordered payments are made in the other state and the responsible agency will forward them to Michigan. Payments are then disbursed to the payee of support for the children. However, if you are receiving Family Independence Payments (FIP), then the payments will be forwarded to the State of Michigan.
The Family Support Division has successfully handled cases to Australia, Canada, Germany, Mexico and the Caribbean.