Friend of the Court


Effective 3/16/2020

Statement from the Michigan Supreme Court relating to matters involving children during the Covid-19 Crisis




Mecosta Friend of the Court

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

Forms: All forms are PDF documents and will open in a new window. If you experience difficulty downloading any of these forms please let us know!

Change in Personal Information

Child Care Verification

Complaint for Enforcement of Healthcare Expense Payment

Direct Deposit Authorization

How to file by mail

How to view your case online

MiSDU Payment Options

Motion Regarding Support

Motion Regarding Custody

Motion Regarding Domicile/Legal Residence

Motion Regarding Parenting Time

Motion Regarding Post Judgment Transfer of Domestic Relations Cases

Objection to Referee’s Recommended Order (with Transcript)

Pin Change

Parenting Time Denial

Request For Health Care Expense Payment

Response to Motion Regarding Custody

Response to Motion Regarding Domicile/Legal Residence

Response to Motion Regarding Parenting Time

Response to Motion Regarding Support

Temporary Payment Coupon

Publications: All publications are PDF documents and will open in a new window. If you experience difficulty downloading any of these publications please let us know!

SMILE Program, Start Making It Livable for Everyone

Standard Parenting Time Schedule

Uninsured Healthcare Expenses Brochure


Rights and Responsibilities of Parties

Friend of the Court Duties

Procedures of the Court

Information About Custody, Parenting Time and Support

Questions Regarding Miscellaneous Issues

Top Family Law Myths

Smile Program

FOC Alternative Dispute Resolution Plan


Glossary of Frequently Used Terms

Helpful Links


Each party has the right to:

Each party has a responsibility to:


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 offices have the following duties:

The Friend of the Court has no authority to do the following:

Together with the Office of Child Support (OCS), local FOC offices administer 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 FOC. Some specific procedures vary by county. You may discuss any questions regarding local or statewide procedures or requirements with your local FOC office or with your attorney.

To become familiar with some family law and FOC legal terms, please refer to the glossary at the end of this publication.

Opting Out of All Services Offered by the FOC

Parties who agree they do not need the FOC’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 FOC 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 FOC not to open a case file unless one or more of the following are true:

Even after the court case has been started and the FOC has opened a file for that case, the parties may file an opt-out motion requesting the court to order the FOC to close its file. The court will issue the order unless one or more of the following are true:

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 FOC case file is closed. At any time, a party can cause the FOC office to reopen its case file by applying for public assistance or by requesting any service from the FOC.


No court can require a party to use an attorney. However, anyone who wants to start a court case must follow the Michigan Court Rules and Michigan Laws. Because most cases involve difficult legal and factual questions, most people want to be represented by an attorney.


Plaintiff's Complaint

Each case begins with the plaintiff (the person requesting the court’s assistance) filing papers which ask the court to order something (a complaint) concerning another party (the defendant). Among the things a complaint may ask the court to do are the following:


The plaintiff must arrange for the defendant to be served with a summons and a copy of the complaint. The summons tells the defendant to answer the complaint. Whenever minor children are involved or spousal support is being requested, a friend of the court informational handbook (this handbook or one like it) must be given to the defendant, along with the summons and complaint.

Defendant's Answer to Complaint

The defendant usually is allowed 21 days to answer the complaint. If the defendant does not answer within 21 days, the judge may enter an order granting the plaintiff’s requests.


After a complaint and an answer have been filed, either party may file a motion asking the court to decide the custody, parenting time, and child support issues. Often the FOC may provide a type of alternative dispute resolution or conduct an evaluation before the court makes a decision regarding custody, parenting time, or child support. The court usually holds a hearing to get the information it needs to decide those issues.

Both parties must be notified of the time and place of a hearing. This advance notice gives the parties an opportunity to appear at the hearing and tell the judge or referee what they think the court should do.


When a court makes a decision, it must sign a written order summarizing the decision. Someone must prepare the order. Usually, one of the attorneys prepares the order, but sometimes the judge prepares it. Either way, an order is not enforceable until a judge signs it and someone files the signed order with the county clerk. A referee can only recommend an order and prepare it; the recommended order does not become enforceable until a judge signs it or until it enters because neither party objected within a certain amount of time. If you disagree with an order and want to challenge it, your options include filing a motion for a rehearing (by the judge who issued the order) or filing an appeal (to a higher court). You cannot change an order by filing a grievance or by complaining to other government agencies.

Preliminary Orders

Courts sometimes enter temporary orders that remain in effect only until the parties have an opportunity to present more detailed evidence and arguments at a later hearing. This often happens in divorce cases.

ExParte Orders (temporary orders entered at the request of one party before any formal hearing).

A judge will enter an ex parte order without the other party present when the judge believes that serious harm will occur if the judge defers issuing any orders until the opposing party has the opportunity to speak with the judge. Ex parte orders usually are intended to keep the situation stable until the judge can hear from both parties. A party who disagrees with an ex parte order may file a written objection to the order or file a motion asking the court to change or cancel the order. Even if an objection or motion is filed, the ex parte order will remain in effect until it is changed by the court.

When an ex parte order deals with custody, parenting time, or child support, the order will include a notice that a written objection or a motion to change the order may be filed within 14 days. If a party files an objection, the FOC will try to help the parties settle the dispute without going to court. If the parties cannot agree, the FOC will provide the forms and instructions that a party who is not represented by an attorney will need to schedule a court hearing.

Temporary and Final Orders

After the court decides a motion challenging an ex parte order, it will enter a temporary order with instructions that the parties must follow until a final judgment order (or a modified temporary order) is entered.

Orders including judgment orders that deal with custody, parenting time, and child support can be changed, but only the court can modify an order; the FOC cannot. Normally, a court will change an order if both parties have agreed to the change. Otherwise, the court will modify an order only after one party (or the FOC) files a motion and the court holds a hearing on the motion.

The parties’ agreement to change a previous court order will be recognized by the court and the FOC only after the judge signs and enters a new order that approves the agreement. Merely telling or writing to tell a FOC employee or a Department of Human Services worker that the parties have agreed to something cannot change the court’s previous order. Sometimes, the law requires the FOC to ask the court to change an order. (See Parenting Time Enforcement and Modification of a Support Order).

Parties’ agreements are only recognized by the court and the friend of the court when they are entered as an order of the court. Simply notifying a friend of the court employee or a Department of Human Resources worker of an agreement does not change the court order. Sometimes, the law requires the friend of the court to ask the court to change an order. (See Parenting Time Enforcement and Modification of a Support Order).

Referee Decisions

A referee is an attorney who is appointed by the chief judge of the circuit court to preside over hearings involving domestic relations issues. A referee hearing is similar to a hearing before a judge. The referee’s decision may have immediate effect. A party may file an objection to a referee’s determination and request a de novo hearing before the presiding judge. The objection and a request for a hearing must be in writing and must be filed with the circuit court clerk within 21 days after the referee’s recommendation is mailed. Objections in Mecosta County are filed using an Objection to Referee's Recommended Order Form.

Related Form: Objection to Referee's Recommended Order

Reconciliations and Dismissals

Not every case ends with separated parents. If parties are trying to work out their differences and wish to have enforcement of their order stopped, they may file a motion with the family division of the court to request an order to suspend automatic enforcement. Enforcement of a support obligation cannot be stopped except by court order.

If the parties wish to stop all further action on a case, they must file a proposed order of dismissal with the court and provide a copy to the FOC. In that situation, when the State of Michigan has provided financial assistance to the parties’ children or spouse while the case was pending, the support payer must pay any previously-ordered child or spousal support to the State of Michigan. This reimbursement may be less than the amount of assistance, but it cannot be more. The exact support amount will depend on how much support the court’s order required. Finally, before the case may be dismissed, the support payer must pay any amounts owed to the court or the county. If those requirements are met, the court will sign an order dismissing the case.

Enforcing Orders When One of the Parents Leaves Michigan

The obligation to pay child support does not end when a parent leaves Michigan, even if it is the custodial parent and the parties’ children who move. Both parents must tell the FOC whenever they move. The support payer must continue to pay support and the friend of the court must continue to enforce the court order.

If a support payer leaves Michigan and stops paying as ordered, there are laws that allow Michigan courts to have their support orders enforced in other states. For example, every state has passed the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA), a law that allows one state’s court to set and enforce support obligations when the parents live in or earn an income in different states. Under UIFSA, a court in another state may be required to use its laws to withhold the payer’s income, enforce the order, set or modify a support order, or assist with finding the payer’s assets. For more information, see The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) (PSA 29).



There are many different kinds of custody arrangements. For any arrangement, the court must decide who will make the major decisions about each child. The court also must decide how much time the child will spend with each parent.

Parents are encouraged to reach their own agreements regarding custody. When parents cannot agree, the judge will decide by analyzing the “best interests of the child” factors listed in the Michigan Child Custody Act. Those factors will be analyzed at a hearing during which the parents may present evidence and arguments about each factor.

At either parent’s request, the court must consider ordering “joint custody,” an arrangement in which both parents participate in making the major decisions that affect their child. If both parents agree to a joint custody arrangement, then the court must order it unless the court determines that joint custody is not in the “best interests of the child.” The court must state on the record its reasons for granting or denying the request for joint custody. The court also may consider ordering joint custody even if neither parent has requested it. A judge who is considering ordering joint custody must consider both the “best interests” factors and also whether the parents will be able to cooperate and usually agree on important decisions affecting their child’s welfare.

If the court determines that a child’s interests are not adequately represented in the custody proceedings, the court may appoint a lawyer-guardian ad litem to represent the child in the court proceedings. If the parties have the ability to pay, the court may require them to pay the lawyer-guardian ad litem’s fees.

For more information about child custody issues, see Michigan Custody Guidelines.

Child Custody Act Factors

Related Forms: Motion Regarding Custody and Response to Motion Regarding Custody

Child Custody Questions

Both parents may sign an agreement and present an order to the court. If the judge approves and signs the consent order, it will then become the new custody order.

You may file the motion on your own, and the FOC will provide the forms and instructions that you will need. However, the court will expect you to follow the same rules that an attorney must follow. There are many complex issues in a custody case and most people prefer to have an attorney represent them. The FOC cannot file a motion for you, nor can that office provide you with an attorney or tell you what to say in the motion.

Yes. The FOC provides domestic relations mediation when there is a custody dispute and both parties agree to participate in mediation. (See Alternative Dispute Resolution in the glossary at the end of this document).

The FOC must:

Upon request, and before the court acts on the recommendation, the FOC must give each party or that party’s attorney a copy of the report, including the custody recommendation and a summary of the information used in making the recommendation.

When a child who is a U.S. citizen is illegally kept outside of this country, the U.S. State Department’s Office of Children’s Issues will work with the local U.S. embassy and the other country’s government to assist the child and the lawful custodial parent. However, because child custody disputes are private legal disputes between the two parents, the State Department has no jurisdiction to force the other parent to obey a court order. If the parents cannot reach an agreement, this kind of child custody dispute often must be resolved by judicial proceedings in the country where the child and the other parent are living. The State Department will help the lawful custodial parent file the appropriate documents with the foreign authorities. It also will monitor and report on the foreign judicial or administrative proceedings.

You can write to: Department of State, Office of Children’s Issues, SA-29, 2201 C Street, NW; U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC 20520-2818.

You also may call 1-888-407-4747, fax 202-736-9080, or go to the State Department’s website for foreign travel.

No, the FOC does not have that authority. Abuse or neglect should be reported (in the county where the custodial parent and children live) to the Department of Human Services’ (DHS) Child Protective Services Division.

A judge will consider allegations of abuse or neglect when making a decision on custody or parenting time. The FOC office has a duty, when ordered by the court, to conduct custody or parenting time investigation. Concerns about abuse or neglect should be disclosed to the FOC during this type of investigation. However, both the judge and the FOC will rely on Child Protective Services to investigate and evaluate the abuse or neglect allegations.

When the parents live in different school districts, Michigan law allows a child to attend a school in either district, regardless of which parent has custody. When a child regularly resides in two school districts, which often happens when the parents have true joint custody, the child may attend school in either or both districts.

PARENTING TIME (previously called visitation)

A parenting time order specifies when a child will spend time with each parent. During parenting time, that parent is responsible for all routine decisions affecting the child. The Michigan Child Custody Act states:

“Parenting time shall be granted to a parent in a frequency, duration, and type reasonably calculated to promote a strong relationship between the child and the parent granted parenting time. If the parents of a child agree on parenting time terms, the court shall order the parenting time terms . . . [unless it is shown] that the parenting time terms are not in the best interests of the child. A child has a right to parenting time with a parent unless it is shown on the record by clear and convincing evidence that it would endanger the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health.” (MCL 722.27a)

That statute also lists factors that the judge may consider when determining the frequency, duration, and type of parenting time. (MCL 722.27a[6]).

Parenting Time Guidelines are posted on the Michigan Supreme Court’s website.

Parenting Time Enforcement by the FOC

The FOC is required to enforce parenting time orders. The FOC office usually will initiate enforcement action when it receives a written complaint stating specific facts that show a violation of an order governing custody or parenting time. However, the FOC may decline to respond for any of the following reasons:

The FOC starts enforcement proceedings by sending a copy of the written complaint to the accused party within 14 days after the FOC office receives the complaint. If it finds that the court’s order has been violated, the FOC may suggest “makeup” parenting time, start an action requiring the party to show cause why the court should not find the party in contempt, file a motion to modify existing parenting time provisions, schedule mediation, or schedule a joint meeting with the parties.

Parenting Time Modification

A party may file a motion to change the parenting time order. The FOC office has printed forms and instructions for filing this type of motion. You may want to hire an attorney to assist you with the motion.

If both parents agree to change the parenting time arrangement, they may sign an agreement and present an order to the court. It is important to remember that, even though the parties have agreed to a change, the current order remains in effect until the judge signs a new order and it is filed with the county clerk.

Related Forms: Motion Regarding Parenting Time and Response to Motion Regarding Parenting Time

Related Publication: Mecosta Standard Parenting Time Schedule

Parenting Time Questions and Answers

An order that grants “reasonable” parenting time assumes that you and the other parent will agree to a parenting time schedule that is convenient for both of you and the child.

If you and the other parent cannot agree on a “reasonable parenting time” schedule you may:

First, ask the other parent to agree to a change. If you agree, then both of you should sign the agreement, or otherwise prove to the court that you agree. The judge usually will sign an order that is based on the parents’ agreement. Remember that the agreement by itself is not enforceable; it must first be converted into a new court order.

If you cannot agree on the changes, either parent may ask the FOC to mediate the dispute. The FOC will provide mediation services if both parents agree to participate. If no agreement is possible, you may file a motion asking the court to order a new parenting time schedule. You may file the motion on your own, or have an attorney file it for you.

Yes, you must continue to obey the order’s parenting time provisions. Ask the FOC to enforce the child support provisions. (see Enforcement Methods).

The FOC can only enforce the court’s written orders. If your court order does not say anything specific about transferring clothing or other personal items, try to work it out with the other parent directly or with help, such as FOC mediation services. If that is unsuccessful, you may file a motion requesting a new court order that will require that clothing or other personal items be transferred along with your child before and after parenting time.

File a written complaint with the FOC. (see Parenting Time Enforcement).

That is your decision as a parent. If you violate the court order in such a situation, you may have to explain your decision to the court at a “show cause” hearing held to decide whether you should be held in contempt of court for disobeying the parenting time order. That will be your opportunity to explain why your decision was in the best interests of the children. If the judge agrees, you will not be held in contempt or otherwise punished.

The FOC can only enforce the written orders of the court. If your court order does not provide for specific telephone call date and times, try to negotiate an agreement with the other parent. You may request FOC mediation or other methods of resolution. In addition, you may file a motion asking the court to modify the order to require that you be allowed to call your children.

Report your concerns to the Department of Human Services’ Child Protective Services Division in the county where the custodial parent and children live. The FOC does not have the authority to investigate abuse or neglect allegations, nor can it remove children from the home of a person who commits or allows mistreatment. Only Child Protective Services can do that.

Parents must obey court orders regardless of the child’s age and preferences. Each parent must try to promote a positive relationship between the child and the other parent. You may want to try the following:

The FOC cannot force a parent to see his or her children. To promote a positive relationship with the children and the other parent, you may wish to consider counseling, mediation, or filing a motion to change the parenting time order.


A support order is any order entered by the family division which requires the payment of support.

Support may include:

All support orders must be stated in a monthly amount which is due on the first day of the month. When an order takes affect on a day other than the first day of a month, or ends on a day other than the last day of the month, the support amount must be prorated for the partial month. Support is past due if it is not paid by the last day of the month in which it became due.

Support Investigations and Reports

The FOC is required to periodically review an order’s child support provisions, including health care. The FOC will ask the court to modify the order if a change is warranted (see Modification of a Support Order). As part of this periodic support review, the FOC may request information from a parent’s employer. That includes things like the parent’s address, social security number, date of birth, earnings, and the details of any dependent health care coverage that is available as a benefit of employment. If a court so directs, the FOC will, in addition to the periodic reviews summarized above, evaluate the current order’s support provisions and submit a written report and recommendation to the parents (or their attorneys) and the judge.

Child Support Formula

Michigan law requires a standard child support formula to be used to determine how much child support a parent must pay. That standard formula considers the parents’ incomes, how many children they have, and other factors. The court may set a support amount that differs from the formula number, but only if the judge explains in writing or during a court hearing why the formula number is “unjust or inappropriate”. For more information about the child support formula, see Facts About the Michigan Child Support Formula@ (PSA 24).

More information is available on the Michigan Supreme Court’s website.

Support Payments

Unless otherwise ordered, support is paid through the Friend of the Court or the State Disbursement Unit (SDU). Payments may be mailed to Michigan SDU, P.O. Box 30351, Lansing, MI 48909.

When support received by the SDU sufficiently identifies to whom the support should be paid, it must be forwarded to the recipient within two business days of receipt.

Related Form: Direct Deposit Authorization Form

Support is normally paid through income withholding. If you are paying directly, please include your case number at the time of payment. Do not send cash through the mail.

Once a year, upon written request, the friend of the court will provide parties with a free statement of their account.

Statutory Service Fees

Michigan law requires the friend of the court to charge the payer of support a fee for all child support cases. The current fee is $42 per year.

Surcharge on Overdue Support

Surcharges are added on January 1 and July 1 each year. The surcharge equals the average interest rate on money judgments, plus one percent. If the support payer has paid 90 percent or more of the support that was due in the previous six months, no surcharge will be assessed. The court can also order that no surcharge be assessed, but a motion must be filed first.

Automatic Support Enforcement

When support payments are more than one month past due, the FOC must begin enforcement action without waiting for a request for enforcement.

Enforcement Methods

The friend of the court has several methods of collecting past due support. They include:

The FOC can require the support payer’s employer (or other income source) to withhold some of the support payer’s income and send the money to the MiSDU. The payer will be notified when the income withholding is issued. The payer has a right to challenge the income withholding at an administrative hearing. Also, the FOC can administratively adjust (usually by increasing) the income withholding, but the FOC office must first send the payer a notice of arrearage. The payer can object to the adjustment after receiving the notice of arrearage.

Most support orders entered or changed after December 31, 1990, must provide for income withholding even without a showing that the support payer has missed payments or is likely to do so. A judge who does not want to require income withholding must find “good cause” for departing from the general rule. Good cause exists when:

All of the following exist:


If support is not paid on time, the FOC or a party may begin a contempt action against the payer. The court will order the payer to appear in court and “show cause” why the court should not find the payer “in contempt of court.” For more information about show cause proceedings, see Show Cause Proceedings in Domestic Relations Cases@ (PSA 25).

Enforcement Officers present cases scheduled for enforcement before a staff attorney or Judge. The Friend of the Court does not directly represent either party in such a proceeding. The Enforcement Officer presents information from Friend of the Court records and may make a recommendation at the hearing. If an agreement is reached, the staff attorney will prepare an order by consent. If the parties are unable to agree, the Judge will make the actual decision as to the disposition. The Court may issue a bench warrant for parties that fail to appear at court ordered hearings and for failure to comply with prior show cause orders.

If child support is overdue and the case otherwise satisfies certain statutory requirements, the FOC must request an income tax “intercept.” In such cases, any tax refund to which the support payer is entitled will be paid to the FOC, which will apply the money to pay past due support. For more information about tax intercepts, see Tax Refund Offset Program@ (PSA 13).

If the payer is more than two months behind on the support payments, the FOC must report the arrearage to a consumer credit reporting agency and the court may suspend the payer’s driving, occupational, sporting, or recreational licenses. Also the FOC may place a lien on the payer’s real and personal property, which then can be sold to pay the support arrearage. For more information, see: Friend of the Court Enforcement of Domestic Relations Orders (PSA 27) and Information About Using Liens To Obtain Past Due Support (PSA 23).

Under federal and Michigan law, failing to pay child support may be a felony criminal offense. The FOC does not have the authority to bring felony charges. Charges based on Michigan law are filed and prosecuted by county prosecutors or the Attorney General. Federal charges are filed and prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s office.

The court may order one or both parents to provide health insurance coverage for the children. If the court orders a parent to obtain available health insurance coverage from an employer and the parent fails to do so, the FOC will send a medical support notice to the parent’s employer. The employer then must enroll the employee’s children in the employer’s plan and deduct the premiums from the employee’s wages.

Some health care expenses are not covered by typical health care plans. Therefore, the court’s support order also will require each parent to pay a percentage of those “noncovered expenses.” As of October 1, 2004, some support orders will require that some of the noncovered health care expenses be included with the child support payment and paid in advance. These noncovered expenses are often referred to as “ordinary health care expenses.” Ordinary health care expenses include things such as co-payments, deductibles and over-the-counter expenses. The FOC will help collect the other parent’s share of those noncovered medical expenses if the following four conditions are satisfied.

If the FOC receives a parent’s request that meets those four requirements, the FOC will notify the other parent that, if no objection is filed within 21 days, the unpaid amount will become a support arrearage and subject to any of the enforcement processes summarized earlier. If an objection is filed, the FOC must schedule a court hearing to decide who is responsible for the amount that the health insurer did not pay.

Related Forms: Request for Healthcare Expense Payment and Complaint for Enforcement of Health Care Expense Payment
(NOTE: Normally, both forms are completed together.)

Related Publication: Uninsured Healthcare Expenses Brochure

Modification of a Support Order

The FOC will review child support orders automatically once every 36 months if the child or one of the parents is receiving public assistance. In other cases, the FOC will conduct a review on written request by a party, but not more often than once every 36 months. If you need an immediate change in the support amount because of a change in your income or the other parent’s income, you should file a court motion requesting the change. Simply notifying the FOC that one parent’s financial situation has changed cannot automatically change the ordered support amount.

Threshold for Modification of the Support Order

The FOC will ask the court to change the required monthly support payment if the difference between the current support amount and the amount determined by the standard child support formula (using the parties’ most recent income data) is at least 10 percent or $25.00 per month, whichever is less. If the difference between the current support amount and the current formula amount is less than that minimum threshold, the FOC is not required to request a change.

Party’s Motion to Modify the Support Order

A party may file a motion to change the support order. The office of the friend of the court will provide forms and instructions to any party who wishes to file this type of motion without the assistance of an attorney. A party may also contact an attorney to file a motion requesting a change in the amount of support.

Related Forms: Motion Regarding Support and Response to Motion Regarding Support

Agreement to Modify the Support Order

If the parties agree to change the support amount to a different amount determined by the child support formula. Both parents may sign an agreement and present an order to the court. Once the order is signed by the judge, and filed with the county clerk, it becomes the new support order.

Retroactive Modification of Support Generally Not Allowed: Exception

Once child support is ordered, a later increase or decrease in the support amount generally cannot apply to any time period before the motion for a change was filed. Michigan law recognizes one exception to that rule: a court may modify support retroactively if a party who has been ordered to do so has intentionally failed to report an income change to the friend of the court or has made a report that misrepresented that party’s income.

Support Questions and Answers

If no one has yet commenced a civil lawsuit that raises the child support issue, you first must file a complaint that includes a request that the court enter a child support order. If you and the other parent agree to establish support at the amount determined by the standard child support formula, you may sign an agreement. Once that agreement is put in the form of an order, signed by the judge, and filed with the county clerk, it becomes the court’s support order. If you cannot agree to follow the formula, the judge will determine the appropriate support amount.

You are not required to have an attorney. However, you may find that you need an attorney’s help to file the correct papers and otherwise follow the court rules.

Child support can continue up to age 19 ½ if the child attends high school on a full-time basis with a reasonable expectation of completing sufficient credits to graduate and the child continues to reside on a full-time basis with the person who receives the support payments.

Yes, an order’s parenting time and child support provisions are enforced separately (see Parenting Time Enforcement).

Contact the FOC for enforcement help if the other parent is more than one month behind on the support payments. You may also hire an attorney to start enforcement proceedings.

No, and you might not receive credit for payments made directly to the other parent.

No, in that situation, the MiSDU must send any support payments that it receives from the other parent to the Department of Human Services to offset the public assistance that you received.

No, the law does not authorize the FOC to investigate how the custodial parent spends child support payments. However, the court may change the custody or support arrangements if you can show that the custodial parent has neglected the children’s needs.

The support amount is determined by the standard child support formula, which considers the parties’ incomes. The FOC is required to initiate a review within 14 days of receiving notice that a parent has been incarcerated or released from incarceration.



Change of Domicile/Change of Legal Residence

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

Notifying the friend of the court or filing a motion does not allow you to move your children farther than allowed by the order. You must obtain a court order granting a change.

Related Forms: Motion Regarding Domicile and Response to Motion Regarding Domicile

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

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

Notifying the friend of the court or filing a motion does not allow you to move your children farther than allowed by the order. You must obtain a court order granting a change.

Related Forms: Motion Regarding Legal Residence and Response to Motion Regarding Legal Residence

Domicile/Legal Residence Factors

A child whose parental custody is governed by court order has, for the purposes of this section, a legal residence with each parent. Except as otherwise provided in this section, a parent of a child whose custody is governed by court order shall not change a legal residence of the child to a location that is more than 100 miles from the child's legal residence at the time of the commencement of the action in which the order is issued.

A parent's change of a child's legal residence is not restricted by subsection (1) if the other parent consents to, or if the court, after complying with subsection (4), permits, the residence change. This section does not apply if the order governing the child's custody grants sole legal custody to 1 of the child's parents.

This section does not apply if, at the time of the commencement of the action in which the custody order is issued, the child's 2 residences were more than 100 miles apart. This section does not apply if the legal residence change results in the child's 2 legal residences being closer to each other than before the change.

Before permitting a legal residence change otherwise restricted by subsection the court shall consider each of the following factors, with the child as the primary focus in the court's deliberations:

Each order determining or modifying custody or parenting time of a child shall include a provision stating the parent's agreement as to how a change in either of the child's legal residences will be handled. If such a provision is included in the order and a child's legal residence change is done in compliance with that provision, this section does not apply. If the parents do not agree on such a provision, the court shall include in the order the following provision: “A parent whose custody or parenting time of a child is governed by this order shall not change the legal residence of the child except in compliance with section 11 of the “Child Custody Act of 1970”, 1970 PA 91, MCL 722.31.”.

If this section applies to a change of a child's legal residence and the parent seeking to change that legal residence needs to seek a safe location from the threat of domestic violence, the parent may move to such a location with the child until the court makes a determination under this section.

Enforcement of Judge’s Verbal Ruling

The FOC’s authority is limited to enforcing written orders. If you think a written order does not say what the judge said in court, first tell the person who prepared the order and request a change. If necessary, you can file a motion that asks the court to correct the order.

Property Settlement

No, the FOC has no authority to enforce the court’s property-division order. The court itself will enforce that order. If the other party does not comply with an order, you may file a motion asking the court to enforce the order.

Access to Friend of the Court Records

Parties and their attorneys are entitled to see most of the information in their FOC file. There are exceptions for certain confidential documents. See Michigan Court Rule 3.218. The FOC may charge a reasonable fee for copying records.

A FOC file is not public information.

Access to Other Records

Michigan law gives both parents the right to see certain records, regardless of the custody arrangement, including medical, dental, school, and day-care records. In addition, both parents are entitled to receive advance notice of meetings that concern their child’s education. However, the FOC cannot enforce that law. You may wish to consult an attorney if you are denied any of those rights.

Adoptions, Marriages and Other Acts of Emancipation.

When any of those “emancipating events” occur, the court will grant a motion ending the obligation to pay further child support. Copies of adoption orders, marriage records, or military service records should be provided to the court. Any overdue support must still be paid.

Yes, the state and federal governments have a parent locater service that may be used to locate a parent for any of the following purposes:

When using the parent locator service, the following information is very helpful:



Fact: The preference of a child is one of twelve factors when considering a custody change. The age and maturity of a child may be considered by the court when considering a custodial change.

Fact: Joint physical custody may result in an array of parenting time arrangements to fit the needs of child/ren and support is calculated accordingly.

Fact: There is no child support amount attached to each child. The child support guidelines calculates child support based on each parent’s actual income or the ability to earn income.

Fact: Child Support and Parenting Time are considered separate issues for enforcement purposes.

Fact: The prosecuting attorney may file a petition to terminate parental rights in cases of severe abuse and neglect, however a parent cannot sign a document that releases his/her responsibility to support the child.

Fact: There is no law that mandates the recipient of support account for how he/she spends the support money.

Fact: Child support can only be modified by either filing a petition or requesting a review of support if it has been three years since the last review of support.

Fact: Reporting of information must be done in writing directly to the Friend of the Court office.

Fact: Direct payments are considered gifts and will not be credited against your support account unless a signed written request to forgive such money is sent to the FOC by the recipient of support.

Fact: To modify a court order regarding child support, a petition must be filed or a written request to review support must be made if it has been three years since the last support review.

Fact: Child support must be paid on a monthly basis. Intercepted taxes may take up to six months to be applied to the account.

Fact: The court order regarding parenting time must be adhered to. The custodial parent is responsible for ensuring the child follows the court ordered parenting time and risks being in contempt of court if the order is disobeyed.

Fact: If a payer of support quits a job, the court may view the act as an unexercised ability to earn income and refuse to modify the support amount.

Fact: Child support must continue to be paid on a monthly basis even though the children may be residing with the payer of support. Most orders entered into prior to October 1, 2008 allow for the payer of support to get a 50% retroactive abatement when the child spends six or more consecutive overnights.

Fact: Child support will continue to charge and FOC will enforce support until the order is modified by the court.

Fact: The FOC will continue to enforce the parenting time until the order is modified by the court.

Fact: The Friend of the Court will continue to enforce the parenting time and child support order until the order is modified by the court. A petition must be filed to modify the court order.

Fact: Each parent decides what activities the child participates in, if any, during his/her parenting time.

Fact: If the child is residing with the payer of support on a permanent full time basis, the child support may be abated to reflect this change, but custody will not change until a petition is filed to modify the order.



What is SMILE? It is an educational program for divorced/separated parents with minor children. It provides information to help parents better the effects of divorce/separation. It assists parents to understand the needs of their children. It helps parents learn what they can do to create a nurturing environment so their children can cope with the divorce/separation and feel good about themselves. It provides information to prevent destructive game playing that is very common among divorced/separated couples and their children. It helps parents gain problem solving skills. It lets parents know they are not alone. It allows parents an opportunity to learn the functions the Friend of the Court provides. It provides information regarding custody, parenting time and child support.

Why is SMILE important? Separation and divorce is a process over which children have no control. Children should not be its victims. When parents are under stress, it is harder to be in touch with their children’s pain and anguish. It takes time, effort and planning on the part of the parents to provide for the children’s needs. In the crisis of divorce/separation, parents may put the children on hold while they attend to adult problems first. Sometimes divorced/separated parents find their roles and expectations are undefined and cloudy. If handled properly, divorce/separation need not be devastating for children.

Smile Program Handbook You can view and print the SMILE Program Handbook from this link. Takes approximately one minute to download at 56k.

2020 DATES

6:00 - 8:00 P.M.

2:00 - 4:00 P.M.

January 21

February 18

March 24 - CANCELED 

April 21 - CANCELED


June 16 - CANCELED

July 21 - CANCELED

August 18

September 15

October 20

November 17

December 15

Cost: Free


Green Charter Township Hall
21431 Northland Drive
Paris, MI 49338

Directions & Map: The Green Charter Township Hall is conveniently located. Go to MapQuest© to get a map and directions from your location to the Green Charter Township Hall.

The SMILE program also offers information about

Come find out the answers to these questions, and more…


Friend of the Court

The Friend of the Court Act includes a grievance process. You may use it to complain about an FOC office’s operations or employees. A grievance may not be used to change the friend of the court’s recommendation in your case, or to challenge a referee’s recommendation or a judge’s decision. Depending on the subject of your grievance and when you file it, you will receive a response from the FOC, the chief judge, or the local citizen advisory committee.

You can file a grievance in two ways:

Court Order

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

Orders are not changed under the grievance procedure or by complaints to other government agencies

Judge or Referee

The Judicial Tenure Commission reviews complaints that allege misconduct by judges or referees. The Commission can recommend that the Michigan Supreme Court discipline a judge or referee who has acted unethically. However, the Commission is not a court; that means that it cannot change a court order or a referee’s recommendation. To obtain that relief, you must either seek rehearing by the same court or file an appeal.

If you wish to file a complaint about misconduct by a judge or referee, contact:

Judicial Tenure Commission
Cadillac Place, Ste 8-450
3034 W. Grand Blvd.
Detroit, Michigan 48202
(313) 875-5110


The Attorney Grievance Commission investigates complaints of misconduct by Michigan attorneys. If you wish to file a complaint (called a “request for investigation”), contact:

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

Other Local Human Services Agencies

Your local FOC office may be able to provide a list of local human service organizations that can assist you in ways that the FOC cannot.



Abatement: A reduction in child support based on the order (commonly 50% for six or more consecutive overnights).

Adjournment: Postponing or putting off a case or session of court until another time or place.

Affidavit: A written statement of fact that is verified by oath or affirmation.

Alimony: See spousal support.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR): Alternative methods to help people resolve legal problems before going to court. ADR involves an independent third person, called a "neutral" who tries to help resolve or narrow the areas of conflict.

Arrearage: Money which is overdue and unpaid.

Bench Warrant: A court order for the arrest of a person, so that he or she may be brought before the court.

Chief Judge: In courts with two or more judges, one judge is selected as chief judge. The chief judge is the director of the administration of the court.

Contiguous: Being in actual contact; touching along a boundary or at a point.

Domestic Relations Action: Any action involving divorce, paternity, custody, parenting time, and support is considered a domestic relations action.

Domicile: The permanent home to which a person, when absent, always intends to return.

Evidence: The testimony of a witness, documents, or other items presented to a court to prove a fact.

Department of Human Services (DHS): The state agency that provides public assistance to families. The Child Protective Services and the Office of Child Support are divisions of DHS.

Family Division of Circuit Court: The division of the circuit court responsible for hearing cases about families and their children. The family division hears domestic relations matters, as well as juvenile matters formerly heard by the probate court.

Friend of the Court: In this website, depending on the context, “friend of the court” usually means an office that assists the circuit court’s family division. The office investigates, makes recommendations and helps enforce orders that affect minor children. “Friend of the Court” also is the formal title of the person in charge of that office.

Grievance: A formal complaint filed for reason of unsatisfactory compliance with specified regulations.

Hearsay: A statement made by a person who is not in court, which is repeated in court to prove a fact. Most hearsay evidence is not allowed as evidence in court.

Joint Custody: An order of the family division which provides:

    1. Parents will share in major decisions affecting their children (joint legal custody); or
    2. Children will live with one parent part of the time and the other parent part of the time (joint physical custody).

Jurisdiction: The power of the court to decide cases before it. This power depends on the type of case and how closely connected the parties are to the county where the court is located.

Legal Residence: A child whose parental custody is governed by court order has a legal residence with each parent.

Motion: A formal request made in writing to the court. A motion is sometimes called a petition.

Order: The written and signed decision of the court.

Party: A person legally involved in a particular action.

Payee: The person, or agency, to whom support is sent. Also known as recipient.

Payer: The person who is ordered to pay support. Also known as an obligor.

Petition: See motion.

Pleadings: Papers filed by a party in a lawsuit stating claims against the other party, or the other party’s defenses to those claims.

Reconciliation: When parties to a domestic relations action are attempting to work out their differences and remain as a family unit.

Show Cause Hearing: A court hearing which is held so that a person can present reasons why he or she should not be considered in violation of a specific court order. Also known as a "Contempt of Court" hearing.

Spousal Support: Money ordered to be paid permanently or for a specified period of time to support a spouse or former spouse.

State Disbursement Unit: A state office which collects and distributes support payments in accordance with the court’s orders.

Statute of Limitations: In civil matters, the time limit on the right to seek relief in court for damages.

TANF: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC or ADC). In Michigan, known as Financial Independence Program (FIP).

Testimony: The statement of a witness under oath which is given as evidence.

Transcript: A word for word record of proceedings at a hearing.

Waive: To give up a right, claim or privilege.

Witness: One who testifies to what (s)he has seen, heard, or otherwise observed.



Michigan Office of Child Support

Department of Health & Human Services

State Court Administrators Office

Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement

Michigan State Disbursement Unit (MiSDU)

MiChild Support

Friend of the Court Handbook

Smile Program Handbook



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 Mecosta County Friend of the Court is not responsible for the accuracy, adequacy, or completeness, or for the results obtained by using them.