Investigations provide the court with additional information necessary to make appropriate decisions. When does the Friend of the Court investigate? The Wayne County Friend of the Court may start an investigation as a result of a direct Order of the Judge or simply as a matter of routine review. Other investigations may be commenced because a petition is brought before the court concerning support, custody, or parenting time. Sometimes the Friend of the Court will talk to the children involved and people that know the children involved such as family, teachers and relatives.
"Friend of the Court" (also referred as the acronym "FOC") is a Circuit Court service that is normally under the "Family Division" associated with the Circuit Courthouse (Wayne County in Detroit, the Friend of the Court resides in the Third Judicial Circuit Court). Established in the year 1919, the Friend of the Court has assisted families and couples in specific types of divorce and legal separation dispute issues.
The Friend of the Court can become actively involved and utilized (and frequently legally mandated by the court) once divorce proceedings are underway and/or sometimes after a divorce (post divorce). The Friend of the Court, can also make recommendations to the court/judge during divorce proceedings and after a divorce is finalized. The Friend of the Court has become an essential entity by enforcing the law after court ruling related agreements in situations normally involving child custody, parenting and monetary support.
Divorce is emotionally stressful and disruptive for the entire family, including children. Divorce and legal separation and can become expensive when there is any disagreements on division issues among parties involved. When this is the case, an experienced efficient mediator (also known as an arbitrator) can save you time, money and usually limit the stress by resolving issues in a timely streamline manner. As most people know preparation for court is wise and resolution of disputes in advance is best. Before you go to court and before any court proceedings begin, disputed parties can reach out to an independent affordable mediator, such as Michigan Mediation Centers created by Nichols & Eberth in Trenton, Dearborn and Troy. They are willing to answer any mediation questions for free calltoll free (888) 571-5700.
Going through a professional mediation is essential since The Friend of the Court services are normally utilized once legal divorce proceedings begin and sometimes after (post divorce/post separation).
The Friend of the Court provides reports to the court and must have an opportunity to hear from both sides. In custody, parenting time and spousal support matters this may involve an in-person interview.
Appointments for Interviews, if ordered by the Court, the Friend of the Court will investigate issues of custody and parenting time, or financial circumstances of the parties, and prepare a written report and recommendation for the court.
To complete the investigation, parties involved may be scheduled for an appointment and will be notified by mail of the date and time. The appointment letter will tell what information to bring to the interview. Information gathered at the interview is used in preparing Friend of the Court recommendations in the areas of support, custody, and parenting time. A decision as to what the recommendation will be is not made at the time of the interview.
Provide the following information and any changes in writing to every FOC office that has a case involving that party:
Current residential address, if this changes notify the Friend of the Court.
A single, current mailing address where all notices and documents should be sent.
Current employer’s (or other source of income) name, address, and telephone number.
Current telephone number (residential or mobile) make sure voice mail is (available and not full) for incoming messages.
Occupational, recreational, or driver’s licenses held, and license number(s.
Social security number, unless exempt by law from disclosing that number.
Keep the Friend of the Court updated on the address of all children involved.
Current information regarding health care coverage that is available to either party as a benefit of employment, or that either party purchases directly from an insurer.
Provide other information required by law to help the FOC carry out its duties.
Obey all court orders
All parties should stay in open communication with the FOC.
The Friend of the Court is an agency of the circuit court established in 1919 to assist the court in disputes and follow up post settlement issues related to divorce cases. Their services pertain to that specific geographic jurisdiction of that particular Circuit Court.
Parties who agree that they do not need the FOC’s services do not have to use them in certain circumstances. They may file a joint motion to opt-out and, if the court approves the motion, the parties must then deal with each other directly. Before the court approves a motion to opt-out, the parties must file a document that shows they are voluntarily giving up FOC services.
If an opt-out motion is filed at the same time as the complaint that starts the case, the court must order the FOC not to open a case file unless one or more of the following is true:
A party is eligible for “Title IV-D Services” because the party receives or has received in the past “public assistance” (please see the glossary for finitions).
A party has applied for Title IV-D Services.
A party has asked the FOC to open a case file.
There is evidence of domestic violence or bargaining inequality, and evidence that the opt-out request is against the best interests of a party or the child.
After the FOC has opened a case, the parties may file an opt-out motion requesting the court to order the FOC to close its file. The court will issue the order unless one or more of the following are true:
A party objects to the closure.
A party is receiving public assistance.
Within the past 12 months, a support rearrange has existed, a custody or parenting-time violation has occurred, or a party has asked the FOC to reopen its case file.
There is any evidence of domestic violence or bargaining inequality coupled with evidence that the request is against the best interests of a party or the child.
The parties have not filed a document with the court, signed by each party, that acknowledges the FOC services that the parties are choosing to give up.
***Parties who opt-out of the FOC’s services must administer and enforce the court’s order on their own. To assure a proper accounting of support payments and that they are considered in future proceedings, parties may make support payments through the MiSDU even after an FOC case file closes.
***If at any time a party applies for public assistance, requests any service from the FOC, or requests that a case be reopened, the FOC will reopen the case file. In these situations, the court may request that a party or the FOC prepare a written order to reopen the case.
Each party has the right to:
Hire and consult an attorney
If the parties agree and the court approves, decline all FOC assistance (“opt-out”).
Meet with the FOC employee who is investigating custody or parenting time.
Ask the FOC to recommend that an order for support or health insurance be modified (see Party’s Motion to Modify the Support Order).
File a grievance concerning an FOC employee or an FOC office procedure.
The Friend of the Court is compliant within the cooperation of the Michigan State Disbursement Unit (MiSDU), to collect, record, and distribute support payments as ordered by the court.
Monday - Thursday 8:00am - 5:00pm
Friday: 8:00am - 3:00pm
Saturday & Sunday by appointment
DISCLAIMER: THIS WHAT IS FRIEND OF THE COURT? / THIRD JUDICIAL CIRCUIT COURT PAGE /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.
Friend of the Court is frequently deployed to aid in enforcing the law even post divorce or post separation of the parties involved. For example: Friend of the Court can be actively involved years after a divorce if there is an involved party that wants to re-evaluate child support (legally this can be reassessed after a decision has been made if spousal income situation has changed with the parties involved).
The Friend of the Court is staffed by analysts who meet with the parties to review their respective incomes and then make a recommendation as to which party should pay child support and the amount of child support. Their is a mathematical formula to this. (See Child Support Calculator)
The Friend of the Court also investigates and makes recommendations regarding child custody and parenting time (a.k.a. visitation). Child support payments are processed through the Michigan State Disbursement Unit (MiSDU) in Lansing. When a support payer falls behind in payments, the Friend of the Court can initiate enforcement proceedings.
FRIEND OF THE COURT
DETROIT / WAYNE COUNTY
645 Griswold St., Ste #150, Detroit, MI 48226
An FOC office performs the following duties:
When directed by the judge, the office investigates and makes recommendations to the court regarding:
Child support and medical support.
Offers voluntary alternative dispute resolution (ADR) services to help settle disagreements about custody or parenting time.
In cooperation with the Michigan State Disbursement Unit (MiSDU), the FOC collects, records, and distributes support payments as ordered by the court.
Assists the court with enforcing orders of custody, parenting time, and support.
Provides forms that parties may use to file motions and responses regarding custody, parenting time, support, change of domicile, and repayment plans.
Informs the parties of the availability of joint custody.
The FOC does not have authority to:
Investigate criminal activity or abuse and neglect (but its employees in their professional capacity must report abuse and neglect).
Change an order.
Give legal advice.
Local FOC offices work with the Office of Child Support (OCS) and the Prosecuting Attorney’s (PA) office to administer certain aspects of Michigan’s child support program under the child support requirements of the federal Social Security Act.
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GENERAL DISCLAIMER: This entire website should be strictly used as informational purposes only. It is not to be construed as legal advise or as a legal consultation since each individual case is unique. Check this website periodically for updates. Nichols & Eberth Law Offices does not warrant or assume any legal liability for the accuracy, completeness, of information provided.