Law Offices


TRENTON - DEARBORN - northville - Sterling Hts


Wayne Oakland Macomb Counties

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There are specific qualifications to become a domestic relations referee. 

*NOTE: If one of the parents disagree with the judge’s child custody decision (or one of the other applicable domestic relations matter situations), that parent (or parents) may appeal that particular decision to the Michigan Court. The parent (or parents) can also file a motion for the judge to reconsider the decision and not take this to the Michigan court.

​​Since May 1993, the chief circuit court judge may only appoint attorneys to be domestic relations referees. Friends of the court who were appointed as referees prior to May 1993 may continue to be referees. A referee hearing is similar to a court hearing. The domestic relations referee serves the same role during the referee hearing as a judge would during a court hearing. The domestic relations referee can listen to testimony, review evidence, and then make a recommendation for an order. The referees must submit the recommended order to the judge and the parents (or a parent’s attorney).

If a parent disagrees with the recommended order, the parent may file a written objection and notice of hearing with the county clerk within 21 days from the time the recommendation is served to the parents. If the referee’s recommendation is for an income withholding (a child support deduction from someone’s source of income – Usually a person’s paycheck), then the objection must be filed within 14 days.

The friend of the court should provide information on how to object to a referee recommendation. If a parent disagrees with a judge’s decision, they may appeal that decision to the Michigan Court Appeals. The parent can also file a motion for the judge to reconsider the decision.


Read about mediation.         

Read about Friend of the Court.

The chief circuit court judge may appoint a domestic relations referee to hear any motion in a domestic relations matter (the only exception to this rule would be a change in spousal support/alimony).

Note: Child custody is considered a domestic relations matter. (Other domestic relations matter would be for example: divorce, property settlements, alimony, spousal support, or other maintenance, the establishment of paternity, the establishment or termination of parental rights, child support, visitation, adoption, and emancipation of minors.​

The difference between a domestic relations referee and a judge? When are they utilized?