Michigan Reentry Law Wiki

Don’t Leave Prison in Debt: Stop Your Child Support Now!

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What Can I Do About My Child Support While I'm in Prison?

Why Should I Care About My Child Support While I’m in Prison?

  • If you are a parent in a Michigan prison who owes child support, on average you will owe almost $28,000 when you get out. This can be impossible to pay off.
  • If you find a job when you get out, the court can take up to 65% of you earnings to pay back support!
  • If you do not keep up with support payments, you can lose your driver’s license, be taken to court, and be prosecuted and jailed for felony non-support.


How Can I Pay Child Support if I’m in Prison?

  • In general, prisoners who file a motion to modify support will be required to pay little or no support unless they have income or assets. You will still be required to pay any back support you already owe.
  • You can change the child support amount you owe now and for the future, but not for the past. If you wait, you won’t be allowed to go back and cancel any past due support. The law does not allow judges to erase the debt later just because you were locked up.


How Do I Get My Child Support Reduced?

  • At a minimum, you should notify the Friend of the Court that you are incarcerated, and ask for a support review. For each of your cases, fill out the forms at the bottom of this page and send it to the Friend of the Court. There is also a list of Friend of the Court addresses provided.
  • In most cases it is also a good idea to file a motion asking the judge to reduce your support. If you have several children on more than one case, you must file a motion in each case. (If you have child support orders in Wayne, Kent or Ingham counties, you may be contacted by the Prisoner Support Adjustment Project, which will provide you with assistance in filing your motions.)
  • Complete instructions and forms for filing your motion are available in your law library in the packet: “Will I Leave Prison In Debt: What You Need to Know About Paying Child Support In Michigan If You Are Incarcerated." If you cannot get the packet, either use the State Court Administrative Office’s Form FOC 50 from your law library, or write to Prisoner Legal Services of Michigan and ask for a copy of the packet.
  • When you fill out the forms, make sure you fill in your name, the name of the other party, the name of the county and the court docket number. If there are other questions on the forms that you can’t answer, leave them blank. In the motion, explain that you are currently in prison. State what income you have, such as prison earnings, pensions, or investments.
  • If you want a hearing, ask for a telephone hearing under Michigan Court Rule 2.004.
  • You must either pay a $20 filing fee or file an affidavit for waiver of fees based on your inability to pay. (The fee waiver form is included in the packet, and should also be available in your law library or from Prisoner Legal Services of Michigan.)
  • Keep a copy of the motion for yourself. You must also mail a copy of your motion to the other party in your case (the other parent, grandparent, guardian, etc.).
  • Send both the motion and the fee (or affidavit for waiver of fee) to the court clerk in the county that has your case. At the same time, file a certificate of mailing showing when you mailed your motion to the other party.


Forms to file your motion to modify support while incarcerated

Cover Letter

Send this cover letter to the Friend of the Court with your motion.

Motion to Modify Support

Refer to the instructions above to fill out this motion.

Friend of the Court address list

Refer to this list to find the address for your Friend of the Court office.

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