Law Offices


DIVORCE LAWYER IN TRENTON


TRENTON-DEARBORN-northville-troY


May a person who is not a biological parent or an adoptive parent get guardianship or get custody of the child?

The information that the Friend of the Court observes, collects and retains for each child and people involved with the children.

Parents should also remember that the friend of the court only makes recommendations. The judge determines the custody, parenting time, and child support arrangements During the meeting, the evaluator will usually discuss each factor of the Child Custody Act (unless some factors are not contested by the parents). An example of a question an evaluator may ask is “How do you show love and affection for the child?” A follow-up question could be: “How does the other parent show love and affection for the child?” It is common for the evaluator to address each factor of the Child Custody Act by presenting similar questions. The evaluator may also ask other questions that attempt to gather additional information. For example, “Could you please describe the relationship your child has with the other parent?” The custody evaluator uses the factors of the Child Custody Act to gather information in order to reach an overall conclusion and recommendation that is provided to the judge.

When a person wants custody of a child to whom that person is not a parent a motion (a formal request) or a complaint must be filed with the court. Most of the custody evaluation procedures used by the friend of the court are the same, except the interview will involve the third party, the parents, and the child. If there is a hearing, a judge must presume that the best interests of the child are served by awarding custody to the parents, unless the contrary is established by clear and convincing evidence. This means it must be clear and convincing to the judge that awarding custody to someone other than the biological or adoptive parent would be in the child’s best interests. When a judge awards custody to a third person, one or both of the parents may receive parenting time and be ordered to pay child support.

FRIEND OF THE COURT CHILD CUSTODY EVALUATION

​DISCLAIMER: THIS FRIEND OF THE COURT CHILD CUSTODY EVALUATION PAGE / THIRD JUDICIAL CIRCUIT COURT WEBSITE /links information  (In addition to the website disclaimer below). We make periodic updates to this page, links and our entire website. However, we are not responsible for "real time updates" or informational errors. Be sure to click on the following link on the "official" FRIEND OF THE COURT / THIRD JUDICIAL CIRCUIT COURT WEBSITE for current information updates in "real time". Nichols & Eberth and the webmaster/designer are not liable for any of the information/links on this page. 

​When completing an evaluation for custody, the evaluator may meet with the parents together or separately. Each friend of the court office has its own policy on scheduling custody evaluation interviews. Some offices schedule separate meetings for each parent while others schedule joint meetings for both parents to attend. There are times when a joint meeting is not appropriate. If there has been a history of domestic violence, the evaluator may speak to the parents separately. The evaluator may also speak separately to the parents simply because both could not appear for the scheduled meeting.


Interviews with parents are intended to provide the evaluator with an opportunity to gather information. The interview with the evaluator is, understandably, a stressful and anxious time for parents. Parents are usually quite uneasy about having their parenting skills evaluated. Often parents are concerned that they may “lose their children” as a result of the evaluation, and this may heighten their anxiety. Parents should always remember they are involved with a custody evaluation to determine the best interests of their child and it is not an opportunity to inflict pain and suffering on the other parent or their child. The evaluation is intended to assist the parents, the attorneys, and the judge in deciding when each parent will have time with the child.


Parents should also remember that the friend of the court only makes recommendations. The judge determines the custody, parenting time, and child support arrangements During the meeting, the evaluator will usually discuss each factor of the Child Custody Act (unless some factors are not contested by the parents). An example of a question an evaluator may ask is “How do you show love and affection for the child?” A follow-up question could be: “How does the other parent show love and affection for the child?” It is common for the evaluator to address each factor of the Child Custody Act by presenting similar questions. The evaluator may also ask other questions that attempt to gather additional information. For example, “Could you please describe the relationship your child has with the other parent?” The custody evaluator uses the factors of the Child Custody Act to gather information in order to reach an overall conclusion and recommendation that is provided to the judge.

Michigan

Wayne Oakland Macomb Counties


​The Friend of the Court office, associated with the Circuit court, is the first public agency that most parents will speak to when the judge is trying to decide custody. One of the responsibilities of the friend of the court is to complete a custody evaluation. The law requires the friend of the court to investigate all relevant facts and make a written report and recommendation to the parents and the court regarding child custody when there is a dispute as to child custody or parenting time, or both, and domestic relations mediation is refused by either parent or is unsuccessful, or if ordered to do so by the court. The law also states, “If requested by a party, an investigation shall include a meeting with the party.”  See what is Friend of the Court and see Friend of the Court. 


The Friend of the Court only makes recommendations

The evaluator may ask for the “home record” of your child. If this occurs, the evaluator is seeking information regarding interaction with siblings, health and emotional problems, discipline problems, and whether the child is outgoing or withdrawn. The evaluator may also ask for the”school record of the child.” This record may indicate academic progress, disciplinary action, learning disabilities, and referrals to the school counselor. The evaluator may also ask for the “community record of the child.” This record may indicate community activities the child has been involved with. Parents may be asked to sign a release form or forms so that the evaluator can ask the school, or other agencies, for information regarding the child. The custody evaluator will usually schedule an interview with the child if the child is of an age and maturity level to be interviewed. Children are not asked to choose one parent over the other during the interview. “The evaluator is trying to gather information about: How the child is functioning physically, emotionally, and mentally.

What is the relationship between the child and each parent?

How does the child feel about the issue of custody?

Usually custody evaluators will start the interview by discussing less stressful topics such as school, activities, toys, and chores. The custody evaluator may then ask questions concerning the child’s relationships and feelings. Most evaluators usually end the interview by asking the child if he or she has any questions and telling the child that it is the judge who makes the custody decision.”

​Many evaluators will indicate in their report that the child’s preference was considered but not indicate what the preference was. This is done to protect the child’s relationship with each parent. Home inspections are sometimes part of the friend of the court evaluation. It may not be necessary for the custody evaluator to conduct a home inspection for every case. If either parent does not contest the other parent’s living conditions, it may not be necessary for the evaluator to conduct a home inspection. Home inspections may be announced or unannounced. Each parent should ask the custody evaluator about a home inspection and if the inspection will be announced or unannounced. Friend of the court custody evaluations may vary in format. The following are examples of information that could be included in a friend of the court custody report.

• Case Identification.

• Names, addresses, and ages of parents and minor children.

• List of investigative and professional contacts and attachments.

• Legal history.

• Family and marital (or relationship) history.

• Statement of positions of parents (this is what the parents think the custody arrangement should be).

• Information (this may include a summary of the information, followed by a statement of relative advantages of the parents as measured by the factors of the Child Custody Act or a statement of factors from the Child Custody Act with the information relevant to each factor assembled under the appropriate factor, together with a statement of advantage for each factor).

• Summary, conclusions, and statement as to established custodial environment.

• Recommendations for custody, parenting time, and child support.

• Response of parents to the custody evaluation.

• Date submitted and signature of custody evaluator.

If a custody evaluation is completed by a community resource (a community resource may be a counseling center, a psychologist or social service agency) judges must ensure that copies of the written findings and recommendations are provided to the friend of the court and to the attorneys for the parents, or to the parents if they are not represented by an attorney. The attorneys, or the parents themselves if they are not represented, may object to the report with the judge before a decision about custody is made.

Are you ready for a Friend of the Court evaluation? Be prepared and learn what to do and what to expect.