Questions Regarding Misc. Issues

Change of Domicile

My order states that I cannot move my children from the State of Michigan without approval of the court. How do I get the court’s approval?

Parties may agree to a change of domicile by signing an agreement (stipulation). Once this agreement is put in the form of an order, signed by the judge and filed with the court clerk, it will become an order of the court.

If you and the other parent cannot agree upon a change of domicile, you may:

(1) Contact the other parent and see if (s)he will agree to mediation; or

(2) File a petition on your own, or contact an attorney to help you file the petition.

Notifying the Friend of the Court or filing a petition does not allow you to move your children from the state. You must obtain a court order granting this change.

Enforcement of Judge's Verbal Ruling

Why won't the Friend of the Court enforce what the judge said in court, even if it's not in the written order?

The Court speaks through its written orders. The Friend of the Court can only enforce the written order.

If you feel a court order does not agree with what the judge said, bring your concerns to the attention of the person who prepared the written order and request a change.

You can also file a motion with the court to correct the written order.

Property Settlement

Can the Friend of the Court enforce the property settlement provisions contained in my Judgment of Divorce?

The Friend of the Court is required to enforce custody, parenting time and support provisions of orders. The Friend of the Court has no power to enforce property issues. The court has the ability to enforce its own order. You may file a motion with the court if there is a need for property settlement enforcement.


What is a Friend of the Court referee, and what can he/she do?

A referee is a person who holds hearings, examines witnesses and makes recommendations to the court.

A referee can either be the Director of the Friend of the Court or an attorney designated by the circuit court.

The chief judge of a circuit court may appoint a referee to hear any domestic relations issue, except an increase or decrease in spousal support.

A referee hearing is different than a court hearing. The findings of a referee are recommendations to the court, and are not final until signed by the judge. A referee's recommendation will become a court order if neither party files an objection within specific time limits.

State law requires that any written report and recommendation prepared by a referee be given to the parties and his/her attorneys before the judge takes action on the recommendation.

If a party disagrees with a referee's recommendation (s)he has the right to a de novo (new) hearing before the judge. The objection to the referee's recommendation, and a request for hearing, must be made within 21 days from the time the recommendation is received (a request for hearing on an income withholding order must be made within 14 days).

Contact the Friend of the Court office or an attorney for an explanation of the way in which an objection and request for hearing should be filed.

Access to Friend of the Court Records

I want to review my Friend of the Court file. How can I request this?

A Friend of the Court file is not a matter of public information. Parties, or their attorneys, must be given access to all information in their Friend of the Court records that is not confidential.

Confidential information is defined by the Michigan Rules of Court. "Confidential Information" means:

(a) Staff notes from investigations, mediation sessions and settlement conferences;

(b) Department of Social Services (now Family Independence Agency) protective services reports;

(c) formal mediation records;

(d) communications from minors;

(e) friend of the court grievances filed by the other party;

(f) a party's address or other information if release is prohibited by court order; and

(g) all information classified as confidential by title IV-D of the Social Security Act.

The Friend of the Court may charge a fee for copying any records.

If the Friend of the Court denies you access to records regarding your case, you may file a motion with the court for an order of access.

Access to Other Records

Can I access school, medical, and other records if my child lives with the other parent?

Michigan law provides that a parent has the right to access certain records or information about his or her child regardless of the custody arrangement. Records or information which may be accessed include medical, dental, and school records, day care provider records, and notification of meetings regarding the child's education.

The Friend of the Court has no authority to enforce this law against schools or health care providers who refuse to provide the records. You may wish to contact an attorney if you are denied this right.

Adoptions, Marriages and Other Acts of Emancipation

What happens to my child support order and any support that may be owed if my minor child is adopted, marries, or enters the military service?

Upon entry of a court order, child support will stop when children are adopted, marry or enter the military service. Copies of adoption orders, marriage records or military service records should be provided to the court.

Any amounts owed must still be paid. Contact the Friend of the Court to make arrangements to pay or collect any money owed.

Parent Locator

What can the Friend of the Court do to find a missing parent?

The state and federal governments have a parent locating service which can be used to locate a parent:

to collect child support;

to decide or enforce a child custody matter;

to enforce parenting time in cases of parental kidnapping.

To use the parent locator service, the following information is helpful:

(1) The full name, date of birth, and social security number of the absent parent; and

(2) The last known address of the absent parent.

Citizen Advisory Committees

What is the Citizen Advisory Committee and what does it do?

Each county is required to appoint a Citizen Advisory Committee. The committees are required to meet at least 6 times a year, and to advise the county board and chief judge about the duties and performance of the office of the Friend of the Court and the community's needs relating to office services.

The committee may review any grievance filed with it which complain about Friend of the Court office operations. For more information on the Citizen Advisory Committee's role in grievances, see Complaints.

Who serves on my county's Citizen Advisory Committee?

The county board of commissioners, or where applicable the county executive, appoints public members of the Citizen Advisory Committee. To be appointed, a person must live in the applicable county. The county is to appoint a person from each of the following categories: an advocate for children, a representative of non custodial parents, a representative of custodial parents, an attorney who engages primarily in family law practice, a mental health professional who provides family counseling, and someone who does not fit into any of the other categories.

In addition to the public members, the county's sheriff, prosecutor, and Family Independence Agency director are to appoint representatives from their offices to serve on the Citizen Advisory Committee.


Friend of the Court

How do I file a complaint about the Friend of the Court?

The Friend of the Court Act provides a grievance procedure for complaints about Friend of the Court operations or employees. A grievance cannot be used to object to a Friend of the Court recommendation, or to disagree with the decision of a judge.

You can file a grievance in two ways:

(1) File a grievance about office operations or employees with the appropriate Friend of the Court office by either:

(a)Filing a grievance form, which you can get from your Friend of the Court office; or

(b)Stating your concerns in a letter to the Friend of the Court and clearly identifying your letter as a grievance.

Within thirty days, the Friend of the Court must investigate and respond or issue a statement explaining why a response is not possible within that time.

If you are not satisfied with the response of the Friend of the Court, you may file the same grievance with the chief circuit court judge.

The chief circuit court judge also is required to investigate and respond to your grievance within thirty days unless a statement is issued explaining why a response is not possible within that time.

(2) File a grievance about office operations with the Citizen Advisory Committee.

Grievances filed with the Citizen Advisory Committee may only concern office operations. Since the Committee's role is advisory only, it cannot decide the grievance. However, it can review, investigate, and hold hearings on the grievance for the purpose of reporting its findings on the performance of the friend of the court to the chief judge and the county board of commissioners.

The Friend of the Court grievance procedure ends with the process just described.

Court Order

How do I file a complaint about my court order?

Court orders are not covered under the Friend of the Court Act grievance procedure.

If you are represented, discuss your legal options with your attorney. Options include filing a motion for a rehearing or filing an appeal.


How do I file a complaint about the conduct of a judge?

The Judicial Tenure Commission reviews complaints about judges.

Complaints concerning your court orders should not be sent to the Judicial Tenure Commission. It is not an appellate court and cannot change the content of a court order.

If you have a complaint, contact:

Judicial Tenure Commission
1410 Comerica Building
211 West Fort Street
Detroit, Michigan 48226
(313) 256-9104


How do I file a complaint about my attorney?

The Attorney Grievance Commission investigates complaints of misconduct by Michigan attorneys.

If you have a complaint, contact:

Attorney Grievance Commission
256 Marquette Building
243 West Congress Street
Detroit, Michigan 48226
(313) 961-6585

Availability Of Human Services

A list of local human service organizations may be available from the Friend of the Court office.