Child Support Unit
Typically after a referral from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services ("DHHS"), our Child Support Unit takes action to establish paternity for children, and to enter initial orders of child support and custody.
The custodial parent will be interviewed, and often the man named as the father is contacted and cooperates with DNA testing through buccal swabs. If he does not, a Circuit Court lawsuit is filed and the alleged father / non-custodial parent is served with the complaint and must file a timely answer.
Paternity means "fatherhood", and the term "establishing paternity" means making the biological father of a child born out of wedlock the legal father as well. Paternity is establish (1) by the parents signing an Affidavit of Parentage and filing it with the state, or (2) through a judge's finding that the man is the legal father. The latter often happens after DNA testing of the mother, child and alleged father. More detailed information about Paternity can be found on our Establishing Paternity page.
Legal parents are required by law to provide financial support for their children who are not living with them, sufficient to cover their medical, dental and other health care expenses, child care expenses, and educational expenses. A statewide child support guideline is used to determine how much the parent should pay. More detailed information about Child Support can be found on our Child Support page.
Child custody involves two issues: Legal custody refers to who makes important decisions in the child's life, such as where the child goes to school, religious preference, consent to medical procedures, etc. Physical custody refers to where the child lives. Each type of custody can be "joint" or "sole". More detailed information can be found on our Custody and Parenting Time page.
After the initial order for paternity / custody and child support is entered with the court, the role of the Prosecuting Attorney's office ends. The order is administered by the Friend of the Court (FOC) office, to collect and distribute child support, to investigate and make recommendations to change terms of the original order, etc. The FOC is a division of the Circuit Court, and is not connected with the Prosecuting Attorney's office.