Friend of the Court (FOC) is an office in the Michigan court system that provides a wide range of services, particularly when it comes to issues like child support and custody. They are meant to provide a supporting role, primarily to the family court itself, as the “eyes and ears” of the court. For many people, the help and support they provide during the divorce process is invaluable. However, not everyone welcomes what they feel is ‘interference’ in the way they choose to manage their family during and after a divorce.
Friend of the Court has a lot of power in Michigan family courts.
FOC is tasked with gathering data about each and every family going through a divorce in Michigan, and then make recommendations to the Judge about child support, child custody, and visitation. And while the judge will always have the final say, FOC can sway a judge in a particular direction, either by presenting data that casts situations in a certain light, or by making recommendations that fly in the face of what the family wants. Either way, there is sometimes a great deal of friction between divorcing parents and FOC.
Some people view their help as meddling, and don’t want them involved.
A number of people, and even some attorneys, believe that FOC has too much power, and that they often complicate divorce proceedings where they should instead be streamlining the process. However, because Michigan law requires that FOC keep a case file for each and every domestic matter involving children that goes through the court system, including divorces. For many families, this seems unnecessarily intrusive. But did you know that some families have the option of “opting out” of FOC’s involvement.
How do you opt out of the FOC being involved in your divorce?
If you don’t want FOC involved in your divorce in any way, there are some basic requirements you’ll have to meet in order to be eligible to opt out, for example:
- Both parents must agree that they don’t want FOC services, and they must sign the required opt-out paperwork.
- Neither parent can be eligible for Title IV-D because of that parent’s current or past receipt of government assistance, like the Food Assistance Program, Medicaid, or foster care.
- Neither parent can have applied for Title IV-D services
- Neither parent can have requested FOC services in the past
- Neither parent can owe money to the State of Michigan
- There must be no evidence of any domestic abuse
- There must be no evidence that parents failed to apply for Title IV-D assistance when it would have been in the best interests of the child if they had.
Get the help you need from the right people!
Join us next time for a look at what’s involved in the opting out process, and what you would have to do to pursue this option. Until then, if you’re getting divorced and you need help with figuring out custody, or child support, call The kronzek Firm at 866 766 5245 and talk to our experienced family law attorneys. We can guide you through every aspect of the process.