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The Michigan Friend of the Court
by: Jonathan Warshay
The Friend of the Court has specific duties. One of the important duties is to provide forms and instructions to the public to file for changes in custody, support and parenting time. The instructions include how to schedule hearings and service of the forms on the other party.

A person does not need a lawyer for these forms, although s/he may still bring one to the hearing. The filing fees still must be paid: $80.00 for a motion to change custody or parenting time (support can be included here), or $40.00 if only support is addressed. If a person is indigent, s/he can ask the court to waive the fee. Depending on the county, this may be done at the Friend of the Court or the Circuit Court.

The forms are available at each Friend of the Court office or may be obtained from the State Court Administrative Office (SCAO), part of the Michigan Supreme Court. The site to download the forms is: http://courts.michigan.gov/scao/courtforms/domesticrelations/drindex.htm

When filing a motion, the courts require the person filing to first ask the other party whether s/he agrees to the change. If both parties agree, a consent order can be entered. No filing fee is required for a consent order; however the court or Friend of the Court may review the order before entry to make sure that it complies with the law.

Some courts may require an investigation by the Friend of the Court before entering an order changing custody or support. During such investigations, the parties have the right to meet with a Friend of the Court representative, but they must be sure to ask (in writing is best).

Finally, the FOC will review a support order every three years if either party requests it. The three year limit refers to requests of one party. These reviews are at no cost. If the Friend of the Court finds that the support amount should be modified (a change of at least $25.00 per month), it will file a motion to change support.

Each Friend of the Court office has a handbook with specific information. The SCAO publishes a model handbook, and it can be obtained at:
http://courts.michigan.gov/scao/resources/publications/manuals/focb/focb_hbk.pdf
The handbook summarizes the friend of the courtís duties and procedures in domestic relations cases, the partiesí rights and responsibilities, and some basic court procedures.

Jonathan Warshay
attywarshay@allvantage.com
www.warshaylawfirm.50megs.com



About the author:
Jonathan Warshay is a former Friend of the Court Staff Attorney now in private practice. He specializes in family law (support, custody, paternity, divorce and parenting time) and district court (traffic and misdemeanors) matters. He is experienced with the Michigan Child Support Formula (guidelines).


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