Friend of the Court

Friend of the Court
301 W.  Upton
Reed  City, MI  49677
Tel: (231) 832-6131
Fax: (231) 832-6158
Monday - Friday, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.


This section of the County’s website provides information about duties and procedures for the Friend of the Court, rights and responsibilities of parties in family law matters, and information about basic court procedures in domestic relations cases.  Family law matters can be difficult and painful.  The family division of the circuit court is responsible for resolving the legal concerns which affect your family.  

Children need both parents.  When you cooperate, you reassure your children that change will be positive. You also build the foundation for your new parental relationship and responsibilities.  Your children will always want you both to be part of their lives, to attend their high school or college graduations, to be at their weddings and the birth of their children, and to be part of other major life events.  They want to be able to say that, despite what mom and dad may have felt toward one another, they always treated each other with courtesy and respect and never put us (the children) in the middle of their dispute. 
 
Acknowledgement
We will do our best to handle your case quickly and fairly.  Please follow the suggestions in this website and you will be well on your way to doing your part.

Much of the information in the Friend of the Court section of the website is derived directly from the Friend of the Court handbook.  Copies of the handbook are available at the Friend of the Court office.

Disclaimer:  Although this website is periodically reviewed and updated to include information to help answer the most common questions, what follows is not an exhaustive list of all policies, civil procedure or domestic relation laws.  To ensure you are fully informed it is always advisable you either research your issue at a public law library or you consult with an attorney.  As for the materials and information made available throughout this website, the Osceola County Friend of the Court is not responsible for the accuracy, adequacy, or completeness, or for the results obtained by using them.

Contacts
Michigan State Disbursement Unit (MiSDU)
Interactive Voice Response Unit (IVR) 


Friend of the Court Forms (PDF Documents)
Change in Personal Information
Complaint and Notice for Health-Care Expense Payment
Direct Deposit Authorization Form 
Long Distance Parenting Time Schedule
Motion Regarding Custody
Motion Regarding Domicile/Legal Residence
Motion Regarding Parenting Time
Motion Regarding Support 
Post Judgment Transfer of Domestic Relations Cases
Objection to Referee’s Recommended Order
Pin Change Form
Request For Health-Care Expense Payment
Response to Motion Regarding Custody  
Response to Motion Regarding Change of Domicile/Legal Residence
Response to Motion Regarding Parenting Time     
Response to Motion Regarding Support
Standard Parenting Time Schedule
Temporary Payment Coupon

Rights and Responsibilities of the Parties
Each Party has a right to:

  • Request a meeting with the Friend of the Court employee investigating a dispute about custody, parenting time, or support.
  • Request the Friend of the Court to recommend whether a support or health insurance order should be modified.
  • Expect the Friend of the Court to perform the duties required by Michigan statute and court rule.
  • Be treated fairly and courteously by Friend of the Court employees.
  • File a grievance with the Friend of the Court office concerning an employee or office procedure.
  • Consult with his or her attorney about any questions or concerns.
  • Proceed in the case without Friend of the Court assistance (opt out) if agreed to by the other party and ordered by the court. 

Each Party has the responsibility to:

  • Inform the Friend of the Court, in writing, of the following information:
              Δ current residential and mailing addresses,
              Δ current employer or source of income’s name, address, and telephone number,
              Δ any occupational or driver’s license held, and the driver’s license number,
              Δ social security number, unless exempt by law from disclosing that number,
              Δ current residence of children,
              Δ current information regarding health care coverage available as a benefit of employment or maintained by either party (may do so using the Change in Personal Information Form).
  • Provide other information required by law to help the Friend of the Court carry out its duties.
  • Obey all court orders.
  • Keep Friend of the Court appointments, or take the time to cancel or reschedule the appointment.
  • Treat the Friend of the Court employees courteously. 

Friend of the Court Duties
Michigan law created Friend of the Court offices in 1919.  At least one office serves each circuit court’s family division.  The Friend of the Court has the following duties:

  • When parents cannot agree, or when directed by the judge, conduct investigations and make reports and recommendations to the court regarding:
              Δ custody
              Δ parenting time
              Δ child support, medical support, and sometimes spousal support
  • To offer voluntary mediation services to help settle disagreements about custody or parenting time.

  • To provide enforcement services on custody, parenting time, and support orders.

  • In cooperation with the Michigan State Disbursement Unit (MiSDU), to collect, record, and distribute support payments as ordered by the court.

  • To help the court enforce orders for custody, parenting time and support.

  • To inform the parties they may decline Friend of the Court services.

  • To inform parties of the availability of joint custody.

  • To make available standardized court forms that parties may use to file motions and responses regarding custody, parenting time and support.

The Friend of the Court has no authority to:

  • Investigate abuse and neglect
  • Change an order
  • Investigate criminal activity
  • Give legal advice to either party 

Together with the Office of Child Support (OCS), local Friend of the Court office administers all aspects of Michigan’s child support program.  OCS is part of the Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS).  OCS administers the child support requirements of the federal Social Security Act.

OCS also coordinates efforts to find absent parents, oversees the Michigan State Disbursement Unit (MiSDU), and manages income tax intercepts and certain other enforcement remedies. 

This handbook describes the general duties of the Friend of the Court.  Some specific procedures vary by county.  You may discuss any questions regarding local or statewide procedures or requirements with your local Friend of the Court office or with your attorney. 

To become familiar with some family law and Friend of the Court legal terms, please refer to the Glossary of Terms section.  

Opting Out of All Services Offered by Friend of the Court
Parties who agree they do not need the Friend of the Court's services do not have to use them.  They may file a joint motion to opt out and, if the court approves it, the parties then must deal with each other directly.  Before the court may approve a motion to opt out, the parties must sign and file a document that summarizes the available Friend of the Court services and acknowledges that the parties have chosen not to use those services. 

The opt-out motion should be filed at the same time as the complaint that starts the case.  If an opt-out motion is filed, the court must order the Friend of the Court not to open a case file unless one or more of the following are true: 

  • A party is eligible for (Social Security Act) Title IV-D services (see the Glossary of Terms for a description of IV-D Services) because the party is receiving or has applied for public assistance.  
  • A party has applied for IV-D services.  
  • A party has asked the Friend of the Court to open a case file.
  • There is evidence of domestic violence or bargaining inequality, coupled with evidence that the opt-out request is against the best interests of a party or the parties’ child. 

Even after the court case has been started and the Friend of the Court has opened a file for that case, the parties may file an opt-out motion requesting the court to order the Friend of the Court 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 previous 12 months, a support arrearage has existed or a custody or parenting time violation has occurred.  
  • Within the previous 12 months, a party has asked the Friend of the Court to reopen its case file.  
  • There is evidence of domestic violence or bargaining inequality coupled with evidence that the request is against the best interests of a party or the parties’ child.

Parties who “opt out” must assume full responsibility for administering and enforcing the court’s orders.  To assure a proper accounting of support payments and their consideration in future proceedings, the parties may make support payments through the MiSDU even after a Friend of the Court case file is closed.  At any time, a party can cause the Friend of the Court office to reopen its case file by applying for public assistance or by requesting any service from the Friend of the Court.

Helpful Links
Michigan Office of Child Support
Department of Health and Human Services
Michigan One Court Of Justice
Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement
Michigan State Disbursement Unit