Regardless of where in Michigan they live, most people have heard of the Friend of the Court in some capacity or another. It’s a name that some people associate with problem solving, while others get angry just hearing the words. But one thing the name doesn’t do, is explain itself. What does “friend of the court” even mean? And what do they do here in Oakland County?
Because their name isn’t exactly a self-evident description of the role they play in legal system, many people are confused about who and what they are. So we thought we’d take a moment to help you understand a few things about Friend of the Court (FOC) in Oakland County.
One Court of Justice
According to Michigan’s Constitution, as a state we have “one court of justice” for the entire state. This “one court” is made up of the trial courts (which includes the circuit, probate, and district courts) and the appellate courts (which are the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court.)
Friend of the Court is a part of the family division of the circuit court, which deals with cases that pertain to… you guessed it: the family. Issues ranging from divorce and child custody, all the way to adoption, child abuse, and even personal protection orders in domestic abuse cases are all handled by the Family Division of the Circuit Court. So how does Friend of the Court figure into this? Well, in the early stages of a family law case, they’re the eyes and ears, so to speak, of the Family Court.
Oversight and Recommendations for the Court
The job of Friend of the Court here in Oakland County is broken into two categories. First, they help the court in areas where it cannot personally supervise a situation themselves. Imagine a judge coming to your home to see whether or not you and your spouse are sticking to the custody agreement they ordered. Not likely, right? The second category is to provide recommendations that pertain to family issues, like child support, spousal support, custody and parenting time.
The Friend of the Court doesn’t make the final decision when it comes to a family matter in court, but it’s opinion does influence the judge’s final decision. In fact, many judges in the Metro Detroit area put a lot of weight on the opinions provided by Friend of the Court. For example, a divorcing couple may be referred to Friend of the Court to resolve issues they have regarding custody and child support.
How Friend of the Court resolves issues
A Conciliator from the Friend of the Court would conduct an initial, early interview with both the husband and the wife, in addition to the children. They would be asked about their finances, their schedules, the status quo and any other information that will help Friend of the Court make a decision about what they think is best for the minor children within the statutory framework.
They may try to help the divorcing couple to work out an agreement regarding custody, child support and parenting time. However, if the couple is unable to agree on something, Friend of the Court will make a recommendation to the judge about what they think would be the best solution for the minor children in that family.
In the next segment we’ll be explaining some other functions of the Friend of the Court, like enforcement, investigation and dispute resolution. Until then, if you or a loved one need help with your divorce, custody concerns, parenting time, enforcement of court orders or even paternity issues, our skilled family law attorneys are here to help. The Kronzek Firm attorneys have handled thousands of cases over the decades. We are available 24/7 at (248) 479-6200, Our office is conveniently located in in Farmington Hills on Northwestern Highway near Inkster.