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Prosecuting Attorney
Peter J. Lucido

Family Support Unit

Our mission is to aid families in providing an emotional and financial foundation for their children. We provide legal services to establish paternity and an initial child support order in non-divorce cases.

 

Overview

The Family Support Unit is funded through a federal grant and county government. The unit is responsible for establishing paternity and initial child support orders for parents who do not live together. The unit does not handle divorces.  

When paternity is not established, the father can admit paternity, or DNA can be ordered by the Court. Following the consent or DNA determining parentage, a filiation order will be entered by the Court establishing the paternity. The Paternity Act provides the authority and procedure to establish paternity for children born out of wedlock.

If paternity has been established previously or by an order, the unit will establish a support order. The support order takes into account what each parent earns, allowable deductions and overnights with each parent. The Family Support Act provides the legal authority for setting child support. A guideline calculation is prepared based on available information. The Court is required to follow the guidelines for support unless an appropriate deviation reason is given.

In cases where the custodial parent and child or children lives out of state, the unit handles the case in the same manner as if both parties were in Michigan. If the non-custodial parent lives out of state, the unit will do the intake of the case and send it to the other state to establish paternity and/or a support order. The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act is used in these situations. Please note that no custody or parenting time is addresses under this act. The parents must seek that separately.

If a child is the recipient of state assistance including: Medicaid, food stamps, cash and/or child care assistance, the custodial parent is required to participate with the Unit to establish paternity and/or support.

Although most custodians who file cases are parents, the unit also represents guardians.

Please note that appointments are necessary and that there must first be a referral from
The Office of Child Support for us to work the case. Our main line phone number is 586-469-7332.

To ensure effective communication with individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing, the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office will provide, free of charge, auxiliary aids such as qualified sign language oral interpreters. Please ask for assistance by contacting the Family Support Division Chief at (586) 469-5269.

 
Chief: Beth Kirshner

Email: beth.kirshner@macombgov.org

APA Kym Shinneman
Email: kymberly.shinneman@macombgov.org

APA Jevona Watson
Email: jevona.watson@macombgov.org

 

Paternity FAQ

What is the Prosecutor’s role in establishing paternity in Michigan?

After a referral from the Office of Child Support, an appointment is made or the custodial parent is contacted to begin the filing of the necessary paperwork to begin a court case. Once the case is filed, the non-custodial parent is served with a copy of the summons and complaint. If paternity needs to be established and the non-custodial parent doesn’t admit paternity, DNA of all parties (mother, child and potential/alleged father) will be scheduled. If the alleged father is excluded, the case is dismissed. If paternity is established, a filiation order will enter. The parents will then be scheduled for a support interview with an assistant prosecutor. The interview may be conducted in person, over the phone or by Zoom.

Whom do I contact at the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office?

Please call a Family Support Specialist at (586) 469- 7332.

What is Paternity?

Paternity means “fatherhood.” The term “establishing paternity” means making the biological father of a child born out of wedlock the legal father as well.

Why is it important to establish paternity?

The parents and the child have the right to have a parent-child relationship. Establishing paternity gives a child born outside of marriage the same legal rights as a child born to married parents. Other reasons include:

Identity: It is important to know who we are. Children who know both parents develop a sense of “belonging”. Children may also benefit by knowing their family’s biological, cultural, and medical history. Money: The law requires both parents to support their children, even if the pregnancy was unplanned. Children supported by just one parent often do not have enough money for their needs.

Benefits: The child has the right to its parents’ benefits (social security, insurance, inheritance, veterans’, etc.). Medical: The child may need a complete medical history from the families of both parents, including inherited health problems.

How is legal paternity established?

If the mother is married when the baby is born, her husband is considered by law to be the father, unless a court says otherwise. If the mother has been divorced or widowed for less than ten months, her husband at the time of conception is considered by law to be the father. If the mother is married at the time of conception or birth, but her husband is not the biological father of the child, a voluntary Affidavit of Parentage is not allowed unless a court has already determined that the husband is not the biological father.

If the mother is not married at the time of conception or birth, paternity can be established by (i) both parents signing a voluntary Affidavit of Parentage that is filed with the Michigan Department of Community Health’s Office of the State Registrar, or (ii) a judge can declare that a man is the legal father after a hearing or default.

How can the father voluntarily acknowledge paternity?

Both parents must sign papers acknowledging paternity. The Affidavit of Parentage must be notarized and filed with the Michigan Department of Community Health’s Office of the State Registrar.

Before signing the form in the presence of a notary public, the father must provide pictured identification and his social security number (plus other identification, if necessary).

Is there a fee for filing the Affidavit of Parentage?

No.

What if the father refuses to acknowledge paternity?

The alleged father will be offered the choice of DNA testing or signing a consent filiation order admitting paternity. If the alleged father won’t do either option, the matter will be set for a hearing with the judge. The assistant prosecutor will ask for DNA testing or that the alleged father be ordered to be the legal father. 

What if the mother is not sure who her child’s father is?

The mother should call a DHHS Support Specialist, toll-free at (866) 540-0008, who will help her to identify and locate (if necessary) the father free of charge. The mother does not have to be on public assistance to seek help from a DHHS Support Specialist.

When is a paternity test necessary? How is a paternity test done?

A paternity test is needed when the alleged father denies or questions paternity. If paternity testing is ordered, the mother, child and alleged father will be scheduled for testing. In Macomb County, buccal swab testing is conducted. Swabs are rubbed inside the mouth, painlessly capturing skin cells containing DNA. The samples are taken from the mother, child and alleged father and are tested at a laboratory. The tests compare the child’s DNA with the mother’s and alleged father’s DNA.

What does paternity testing show?

The tests can accurately show that a man is not the father of the child, or a percentage of likelihood that he is the father (e.g., 99.48% probability). Because of its accuracy, the saliva sample result generally settles the issue, so contested paternity trials are rare.

Who pays for the DNA tests?

If paternity is not established, the non-custodial party pays for the DNA testing. The fee is added to the judgment or order of support. If the non-custodial party is excluded, no payment is required.

What happens if the mother or father is not 18?

In Michigan, the mother’s or father’s age is irrelevant

How long after the child is born can paternity be established?

Both Michigan and federal laws permit paternity actions to be started any time before the child reaches the age of 18. But, you should not wait to establish paternity. Your child has the right to expect regular and continued emotional and financial support from both parents. Give your child the best possible chance in life by getting paternity established now!

When can the father’s name be put on the birth certificate?

If the mother is married, her husband’s name will be recorded on the birth certificate. In other circumstances:

  • If the mother has been divorced or widowed for less than ten months, her husband at the time of conception will be named on the birth certificate;
  • If the mother was not married at the time of conception;
  • If an Affidavit of Parentage has been signed and notarized, the father’s name can be placed on the birth certificate.

Birth certificates are not automatically changed when an Affidavit of Parentage is filed, unless the change is made at the birth hospital before the birth has been registered. Changes to registered birth records can be requested based upon a properly completed Affidavit of Parentage, but the birth record correction must be requested on an Application to Correct a Certificate of Birth. These forms are available at the County Clerk’s office or the Office of the State Registrar. A birth certificate can be changed to reflect the father listed on this Affidavit if no other man is recorded on the birth certificate as the child’s father. Should a conflict exist, a court determination of paternity may become necessary.

If the parents decide to voluntarily acknowledge paternity, what other steps must be taken?

Besides filing the notarized Affidavit of Parentage with the Michigan Department of Community Health’s Office of the State Registrar, the parents should try to agree on issues of family support, parenting time (“visitation”) and custody. If the parents cannot agree, then they must get a court order. In Macomb County, child custody and visitation issues are decided after the paternity order is entered. Other counties may handle the timing of custody and visitation orders differently.

 

Custody and Parenting Time FAQ

Are there different kinds of custody?

There are two types of custody: Physical and Legal. Physical Custody is where the child or children lay their heads down at night. Legal Custody concerns decision making. It deals with important decisions: medical, educational and legal decisions. If the non-custodial parent has overnight parenting time, the judges favor joint legal custody. Physical custody is not as important. The Judges look instead to what parenting time agreement the parents have and how many overnights each parent has.

What is the Prosecutor’s role in issues of custody and parenting time (visitation)?

After a case is filed in the Circuit Court and the non-custodial parent is served and paternity established, if necessary, the parties will meet with an Assistant Prosecutor to determine a support order. The order will address custody, parenting time and child support. If the parties agree on custody and parenting time, the office will draft a consent judgment regarding the issues of custody, parenting time and support. If the parties don’t agree, the matter will be set for a Court hearing or referred directly to the Friend of the Court for an investigation depending on the parties and Judge’s preference.

The Prosecutor’s Office does not represent anyone on custody or parenting time matters pursuant to statute.

If you need help because you are being denied parenting time, you may contact the Friend of the Court for assistance once a judgment has been issued by a Circuit Court Judge, or you may seek the assistance of a private attorney who specializes in family law.

How do I get an order for custody?

A petition must be filed requesting the court to grant you custody of your child/children. If both parties agree and sign an agreement (called a Stipulation and Consent Agreement), that will be entered as a custody order (if the Judge approves the terms, too).

Please Note: The Prosecutor’s Office does not handle custody matters. You should consult a private attorney, or seek a referral from the Macomb County Bar Association of you need a referral. The website www.michiganlegalhelp.com may also be beneficial to you.

How do I change an existing custody order?

A custody order can be changed by filing a petition to modify the custody order — or the parents can sign a written agreement, which the Judge can approve and enter.

We can’t agree on custody issues. Can the Court help us reach an agreement?

The Assistant Prosecutor assigned to your case will attempt to facilitate an agreement, incidental to the support interview. If you cannot agree after that meeting, the case will be set for either a Court Hearing with the Judge or referred to the Friend of the Court depending on the parties and Judge’s preference. The Assistant Prosecutor will explain the available options if there is no agreement at the support interview.

Do I need an attorney to get a custody order?

You do not have to have an attorney in order to file for a custody order, but it is a good idea because there are many complicated legal issues involved. Neither the Prosecuting Attorney nor the Friend of the Court can act as your legal counsel, or file a custody petition for you.

How do I get an order for parenting time (visitation)?

In the initial support order done in the prosecutor’s office, parenting time will be addressed. If you wish to file your own case, file a petition requesting that the court grant you visitation time with your child/children. If both parties (and the Judge) agree and sign an agreement, that will be entered as a visitation order. A visitation order can be changed by filing a petition to modify the order — or the parents can sign a written agreement, which the Judge can approve and enter. The Friend of the Court will provide domestic relations “mediation” to help resolve disagreements over the terms of parenting time. If the parties cannot agree on the terms of parenting time — or if mediation does not resolve disputes — the Friend of the Court will conduct an investigation and file a written report and recommendation with the Circuit Court, based on factors listed in the Michigan Child Custody Act. The parents will get copies of the report and recommendation. A court hearing will follow before the Judge decides what to do about custody. The Child Custody Act states that visitation shall be granted in accordance with the “best interests of the children”. A child has a right to parenting time with the non-custodial parent unless the Judge rules by clear and convincing evidence that the visitation would endanger the child’s physical, mental or emotional health. 

I am being denied visitation. What can be done?

If you have an order, first, contact your attorney (if you hired one to assist you getting the custody order). Otherwise, contact Macomb County Friend of the Court.

Does the Prosecuting Attorney or the Friend of the Court have a responsibility to investigate alleged abuse and/or neglect of a child?

Allegations of child abuse or neglect should be reported to the Protective Services unit of your county’s Michigan Department of Health & Human Services.

The DHHS offices in Macomb County are located at:
Macomb County DHS – Central Administration
19700 Hall Rd., Ste. A, Clinton Township, MI 48038-1478
(586) 412-6100

Macomb County DHS – Mt Clemens District
21885 Dunham Rd., Clinton Township, MI 48036
(586) 469-7700

Macomb County DHS – Sterling Heights District
44600 Delco Blvd., Sterling Heights MI 48313
(586) 254-1500

Macomb County DHS – Warren District
27690 Van Dyke Avenue Warren MI 48093
(586) 427-0600

 If the DHHS investigation determines that abuse or neglect has occurred, the Prosecuting Attorney may be asked to assist DHHS in filing a neglect petition in the Family Division of Circuit Court. The Friend of the Court must conduct an investigation when a party files a visitation or custody petition; allegations of abuse or neglect should be communicated to the Friend of the Court during this investigation.

 

Child Support FAQ

How do I get a court order for child support?

If your child is the recipient of state assistance, a case will be filed on your behalf. Alternatively, if there is no assistance but you would like to start a case, you can seek a referral from The Office of Child Support and the Prosecutor’s Office will start the case for you. Additionally, you can hire a private attorney or file a case on our own to establish child support.  

Lansing Department of Health and Human Services
Office of Child Support Operations – Lansing
P.O. Box 30750 Lansing, MI 48909-8250
(866) 540-0008 (toll free number)

Detroit Department of Health and Human Services
Office of Child Support Operations – Southeast
Box 02991 Detroit, MI 48202- 2991
(866) 661-0005 (toll free number)

Contact one of these locations to inquire about child support services (i.e., establishing paternity, child support orders, etc). DHHS no longer has contact persons in their local county offices. Once the support order has been entered, if the parents get back together and decide to end the child support order, they must contact their private lawyer or the Friend of the Court to stop the support order. It is not sufficient to just notify a Department of Health and Human Services case worker.

How is child support determined?

Child support is set by a formula in the Michigan Child Support Guidelines. This formula considers both parents’ income, the number of children and their custodial arrangements. Medical costs may also be included in the family support order.

Will the Prosecutor help me collect child support?

No. The Friend of the Court is responsible for enforcing payment orders and collecting delinquencies (although you may also hire a private attorney to file an enforcement action).

The parent responsible for paying support has stopped paying. What can be done?

The Friend of the Court is responsible for enforcing payment orders and collecting delinquencies (although you may also hire a private attorney to file an enforcement action).

There are several options: income withholding orders, show cause hearings (civil contempt hearings held with the Judge who issued the support order), tax refund intercepts, and liens on the payor’s property are the most common methods used. NOTE: Visitation and support orders are separate orders of the Court, with separate enforcement procedures. If you are not being paid the support monies to which you believe you are entitled, you may not withhold parenting time (“visitation”) from the delinquent parent.

I cannot find the non-paying parent. Are there free Internet sites that may assist my search?

Yes! The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services website has a good list of parent locator services.

The parent responsible for paying support has moved to another state. What do I do?

The parent responsible for paying child support must continue to pay support through the Friend of the Court, even if he or she leaves the State of Michigan. If family support payments stop, the parent who is owed the money has several options:

  1. Contact a private lawyer or the DHHS to request an action under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA); a UIFSA order establishes a support order in the state where the non-custodial parent lives. Bring copies of all court orders involving the parents, plus the full name, date of birth, social security number, and last known address of the person who owes support money. DHHS will send a referral to the Prosecuting Attorney to start a UIFSA action. If the missing parent’s whereabouts are unknown, DHHS or the Prosecuting Attorney may be able to help find him or her. Once the state in which the non-custodial parent lives enters its support order, authorities in that state are responsible for its enforcement. Each state has control within its own borders, and a support order established in the other state under UIFSA does not affect the amount owed under the Michigan order. A delinquent payor who returns to Michigan can be brought before a Michigan court for failure to pay under the Michigan order. Register the Michigan order in the other state where the paying parent lives. (The Friend of the Court or a private lawyer can help do this.) Once registered, it becomes an order of that state’s court, and is enforced by that other state. [NOTE: In some states, registering the support order requires registering the custody and visitation orders, which will give the other state’s court the power to change the terms of the support, custody or visitation orders, if asked.]
  1. Request the Friend of the Court to arrange for the Michigan court to send an interstate income withholding order, if the name and address of the payer’s source of income are known. The FOC can then begin an interstate income withholding action.
  • What web sites have Michigan child support-related information?

Check out the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ Child Support page, you will find answers to common support questions, plus information on and links to the Michigan Child Support Guidelines and Child Support Formula Manual.

Are there other web sites with child support information?

Visit Michigan’s Most Wanted Non-supporting Parents! Check out the Federal Administration for Children and Families, the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement, the Mothers Against Fathers in Arrears, and the International Child Support websites.

 

Friend of the Court FAQ

What is the Friend of the Court?

The Friend of the Court is a division of the Circuit Court; there is at least one office for each County. The Friend of the Court is not a division of the Prosecuting Attorney’s office. The Friend of the Court Act (1982 PA 294) makes the office responsible for:

  • Investigating, reporting and making recommendations to the Circuit Court on custody, parenting time (“visitation”) and the amount of child support providing mediation sessions to resolve child custody and parenting time disagreements collecting, recording and sending out all support payments ordered by the Court;
  • Initiating enforcement of all custody, support and parenting time (“visitation”) orders entered by the Court

Where do I contact the Macomb County Friend of the Court?

10 N. Main Street, Mt. Clemens, MI 48043-8606
INTERACTIVE VOICE RESPONSE SYSTEM (586) 469-5160