Friend of the Court
AT THIS TIME, THE FRIEND OF THE COURT LOBBY WILL BE CLOSED DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC. FOR THE HEALTH AND WELL-BEING OF EVERYONE, WE ASK THAT YOU PLEASE CONTACT THE FRIEND OF THE COURT OFFICE BY PHONE (989) 224-5136.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 16, 2020
Statement from the Michigan Supreme Court on Matters Concerning Children: With schools closed and courthouses limiting operations to reduce exposure to COVID-19, parents who live apart might be confused about changing family situations and their court orders.
Things to Remember
The Supreme Court wants to remind parents that all court orders for a child’s custody, parenting time and support are still in force. Only a new court order can change that. Parents should continue to follow their court order.
If future government decisions restrict travel or, if a child’s safety is an issue, parents should work together to keep the child’s access to both parents as close to the normal arrangement as possible. Remember that children might also be nervous about current events and need reassurance from parents. If it is necessary to share parental responsibilities in ways different than the court order provides, parents should cooperate with each other to further the child’s best interests. If parents are not able to agree between themselves how to do this, their court order continues to control what they should do.
Child support payment processing is expected to continue. However, if a person changes jobs or a court order changes, there may be a delay in updating automatic payment withholding from a paycheck. If a parent has child support obligations and money is not automatically withheld from his or her pay, the parent should be sure to make the payment through the State Disbursement Unit. Parents can also make payments through PayNearMe at CVS Pharmacy, 7-Eleven, Family Dollar, and Casey’s General Store.
Parents are encouraged to sign up for MiChildSupport to see their child support case online. To sign up, click here.
To access child support information, please call MiSDU at 877-543-2660 or access the MiCase Website.
About Friend of the Court
The Friend of the Court is an entity created by statute to assist the Family Division of Circuit Court in establishing, enforcing, and modifying orders related to custody, parenting time, domicile, child support, child care expenses, and medical expenses. Our staff is aware of the fact that we deal with sensitive issues involving your children, your family, and your finances. Our goal is to help you and the other parent to work together to serve the best interests of your children.
The Friend of the Court provides a wide array of services including conciliation conferences, informal mediation, investigations, support reviews, child support enforcement, medical enforcement, and enforcement of custody and parenting time provisions. Fore more information, please review the Friend of the Court Handbook (PDF) and Parenting Time Guidelines (PDF).
Family Division Referee
Post-judgment motions regarding custody, parenting time, change of domicile, or child support may be referred for a hearing before the Family Division Referee. A hearing before the referee is very similar to a hearing before the judge. You may be represented by an attorney; you will likely be required to testify under oath; and you may call witnesses and enter exhibits to support your case.
After your hearing, the referee will issue a recommended order. The parties will have 21 days to file a written objection if they disagree with the recommended order. Please note that you are required to request the hearing transcript if you file an objection. If a party objects to the recommended order, you will have a hearing before the judge. If neither party objects, the recommended order will become the Order of the Court.
Start Making It Livable for Everyone (SMILE) Program
Parents in all newly filed cases will be required to attend SMILE, a 2-hour program designed as a tool to help parents deal with their children in the context of divorce or separation. SMILE provides information about how parents can better define and attend to their children's emotions and needs. It also gives parents tools to develop closer relationships with their children.
The program promotes parental cooperation by stressing the importance of co-parenting for children's well-being. It provides specific behavioral guidelines so parents can relate to each other more positively.