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Child support payments in Wayne County going electronic

Contact: Maureen Sorbet or Karen Stock (517) 373-7394
Agency: Human Services

January 22, 2007

DETROIT - The DHS Office of Child Support, in coordination with the Friend of the Court in Wayne County, today announced it will begin disbursing child support payments electronically. A new law requires all child support payments to be electronically disbursed either by direct deposit into a personal checking/savings account or to a debit card.

Wayne County is the final county to implement the changes because it has the largest number of custodial parents receiving child support payments. The program was implemented in Michigan's other 82 counties through a rollout process during 2006.

Customers who currently receive paper checks in these counties have received information in the mail and were given the choice of direct deposit to their checking/savings account or to a debit card. Paper child support checks will no longer be sent out to customers unless they meet the hardship exceptions described in the law.

"There are many advantages for customers and for the state,"said Marilyn Stephen, director of DHS Office of Child Support. "For customers, direct deposit eliminates delays waiting for checks in the mail, prevents lost or stolen checks, and avoids check cashing fees. For the state, electronic payments are less costly to process; that's a benefit to Michigan taxpayers."

Before implementation of the law, about 30 percent of child support recipients in the state had their payments directly deposited into their personal checking or savings account. Customers currently participating in direct deposit are not required to switch to the debit card.

Many Wayne County residents have chosen to receive their payments via direct deposit to their bank account, while others will receive theirs via the new VISA debit cards. The VISA debit cards, which will be issued at no cost to customers, can be used like any other bank or credit union debit card at millions of locations that accept VISA debit cards without incurring any fees. Customers can also get cash back with purchases from any of over 29,000 Interlink merchants in Michigan, again without fees. Customers choosing to access debit card funds using an automated teller machine (ATM) will be subject to ATM fees.

In states with electronic disbursement already in place, about two-thirds of customers choose direct deposit to checking/savings and one-third choose direct deposit to debit cards. For Wayne County child support customers who would like to choose direct deposit but do not have a bank account, several financial institutions have agreed to waive various fees. In addition, these financial institutions will be at the Wayne County Friend of the Court offices, Penobscot Building, 645 Griswold, from January 22 to February 2 to assist customers with opening an account.

For more information on electronic disbursement of child support go to the child support section of the DHS Web site, www.michigan.gov/dhs or to www.misdu.com





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