Most people have heard of Friend of the Court before, whether it’s your friend’s divorce or a co-worker’s custody battle. However, since the title ‘Friend of the Court’ isn’t really a self-evident description of the role that they play in legal proceedings, it can be a little confusing. For this reason, we have decided to explain what Friend of the Court really is, and what exactly it is that they do.
According to Michigan’s Constitution, we have “one court of justice” for the entire state. This ‘one court’ isn’t actually a single court, but rather refers to a unified court system that is made up of the trial courts and the appellate courts. The trial courts include the circuit, probate, and district courts, while the appellate courts include 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 family law. This includes a wide range of topics ranging from divorce and child custody, all the way to adoption, child abuse and even personal protection orders in domestic abuse cases. All of these are all handled by the Family Division of the Circuit Court, which is where the Friend of the Court comes in.
Friend of the Court is like the ‘eyes and ears’ of the Circuit Court Family Division.
It’s job is to provide assistance to both help the court in two major areas. One is to provide oversight in situations where the court itself cannot personally supervise, like court-ordered visitation and custody agreements, and also to provide recommendations that pertain to family issues like spousal support, custody and parenting concerns.
Although Friend of the Court doesn’t make the final decision when it comes to a family matter in court, its opinion does influence the judge’s final decision. For example, a divorcing couple may be referred to Friend of the Court to resolve issues they have regarding custody and child support.
Someone from Friend of the Court will conduct an interview with the husband, the wife, and also the children. They will be asked about finances, schedules, and any other information that will help Friend of the Court make a decision about what they think is best for everyone. They may also 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 based on what they believe is best.
Join us next time for our wrap up article on Friend of the Court, where we will be discussing some other functions of the Friend of the Court, like enforcement, investigation and dispute resolution. Until then, if you are faced with a family law dilemma that you need help in resolving, from divorce and child custody, to adoption issues and false allegations of abuse, we are here for you! Call us at 517-886-1000. Our experienced attorneys are available 24/7 to discuss your case with you and determine your next move.