Tuesday, October 22, 2019

General Informtion

The Friend of the Court Office was created in 1919 by Michigan law. There is one office serving each circuit/trial court in the state. The Family Division of the Circuit Court was created by Public Act 388 in 1996. On January 1, 1998 the Friend of the Court became a unit in the Family Division of the Circuit Court. The Friend of the Court Office provides services to parties with minor children involving divorce, family support, interstate and paternity cases.

How the Friend of Court Office becomes involved:

The Friend of the Court Office is the collection, enforcement and investigative arm of the Trial Court in the area of domestic relations. The actions by the office are dictated by court order. The court issues orders after the Judge and/or Referee have made a determination and the written document is signed, then filed with the county clerk. To obtain a domestic relation order from the Court, the issue has to be brought before the Court through formal legal action. Every domestic relation matter begins with the plaintiff filing a complaint or petition, which asks the court to grant an order. For example, a complaint may ask the court to grant a divorce, provide for child or spousal support, start an out-of-state support collection effort, or grant an order for custody of a child. The defendant is the person whom the complaint is filed against. The complaint is filed either by a private attorney, the prosecuting attorney or by one of the parties. The Friend of the Court Office does not become involved until an action has been filed with the Court.

The jurisdiction of the Court over the parties and the children involved in divorce, custody, support and parenting time actions starts as soon as a case is filed. It may continue long after a judgment is granted. Each party has many responsibilities and duties in a domestic relations case. The first duty and responsibility is to obey the Orders issued by the Court.

The duties of the Friend of the Court include:

The Friend of the Court Office’s (FOC) main duties are to assist the Trial Court in divorce and related cases.

  • Collecting, recording and disbursing child support payments as ordered by the court.
  • Investigating and making recommendations to the court on child custody, parenting time and child support matters.
  • Providing mediation for parenting time and custody disputes.
  • Enforcing court orders regarding custody, parenting time, medical and child support.
  • Providing forms to parties so that they can petition the Court when they desire.

The Friend of the Court Office can initiate enforcement proceedings when the support payor falls behind, parenting time is denied or the custody order is violated. The FOC also investigates and makes recommendations regarding support, alimony, custody, and parenting time. Mediation services are also offered by the FOC to aid in resolving conflicts in custody and parenting time.

More information is available through Michigan’s Friend of the Court Handbook. The handbook addresses the basic duties of parties when the court has issued an order for custody, parenting time or support. Further, the handbook describes general duties of the Friend of the Court. Specific procedures are established by local offices and may vary from office to office. Any questions regarding local procedures or requirements outlined in this handbook may be discussed with your local Friend of the Court Office, or with an attorney of your choice.

Each party has a responsibility to:

  • Inform the Friend of the Court, in writing, of the following information:
  • Current residential and mailing address.
  • Current telephone number.
  • Current employer or source of income’s name, address, and telephone number.
  • Current residence of children.
  • Current information regarding health care coverage available as a benefit of employment or maintained by either party.
  • Any occupational or driver’s license held, and the driver’s license number.
  • Social security number, unless exempt by law from disclosing that number.
  • Provide information to the Friend of the Court to assist the office in carrying out it’s duties as required by law.
  • Obey all orders of the court.
  • Keep appointments made with the office, or take the time to cancel or reschedule the appointment.
  • Treat Friend of the Court employees with fairness, respect, and courtesy.