On September 18, 2018, the traditional rule that a civil action to enforce a child support order is subject to a 10-year statutory limitations period. MCL 600.5809(4); People v Monaco, 474 Mich 48, 54-55; 710 NW2d 46 (2006) has been turned on its head by the Michigan Court of Appeals in a recently published opinion of Parks v. Niemiec.
Before the Parks v. Niemiec case, the statute of limitations began to run “from the date that the last support payment is due under the support order regardless of whether or not the last payment is made.” MCL 600.5809(4). Generally, the “date that the last support payment is due” is the child’s 18th birthday. Rzadkowolski v Pefley, 237 Mich App 405, 411; 603 NW2d 646 (1999).
John Niemiec owed over $40,000.00 in child support arising from a 1992 paternity case. Niemiec contends that the statutory limitations period for enforcement of the support order ran in 2017 and 2017 respectfully; 10 years after the children’s 18th birthday when the last support payment was due.
However, the Court of Appeals held that the statute of limitations is tolled, that is stops running, as long as the court has continuing jurisdiction to enforce and since the court started to try to enforce the child support in 2007, it tolled the statute of limitations.
It appears that the impact of this ruling is there is no practical statute of limitations on child support. Remarkably, the Court of Appeals in Parks v. Niemiec disagrees by declaring the statute of limitations applies to child support orders, however it is tolled by the trial court’s continuing jurisdiction.
Talk about a work around. It appears there no longer is a practical statute of limitations in child support cases.
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By: Daniel Findling