Duties and Responsibilities
The Friend of the Court has the powers and duties prescribed by statute, including those duties in the Friend of the Court Act, MCL 552.501 et seq., and the Support and Parenting Time Enforcement Act, MCL 552.601 et seq.
The Friend of the Court is responsible for initiating proceedings to enforce an order or judgment for support, visitation or custody. We provide walk in service, in pro per motion packets and the SMILE (start making it livable for everyone) booklet. We monitor all child support accounts, provide enforcement, answer phone calls, contact other agencies, conduct child support reviews, offer mediation services, register cases in other states and enforce orders other states register here. We accept and process direct child support payments and assist Circuit Court with other domestic relations matters.
Michigan Friend of the Court System
The Michigan Constitution established "one court of justice" for the entire state. This one court of justice is comprised of trial courts (circuit, probate and district) and appellate courts (the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court). The friend of the court is part of the family division of the circuit court.
Role of Friend of the Court
As part of the family division of the circuit court, the friend of the court serves as the "amicus curiae" (acts as the "eyes and ears") of the circuit court family division judge. The office is to provide assistance to the court in matters that the court cannot exercise personal supervision over, and to furnish the court with recommendations related to domestic relations matters such as custody, parenting time, and support. The person who makes the ultimate decision in any domestic relations action is the family division judge to whom the case is assigned.
Services of the Friend of the Court
The office of the friend of the court has the responsibility for providing specific services to the public which it assists. Just as the role and function of the court has changed during the 20th century, the office of the friend of the court has evolved considerably during its history; based upon changes in statute, court rule, and public policy.
As a division of the circuit court that focuses upon enforcement of child support in domestic relations cases on behalf of minor children who "may become public charges," the friend of the court office developed into an agency responsible for enforcing the orders of the family division of the circuit court and delivering services related to divorce, paternity actions, family support actions and interstate actions.
Investigation (sometimes called evaluation)
In addition to providing assistance related to the collection, enforcement, and modification of child support, the friend of the court office is the investigative and enforcement entity of the family division of the circuit court with respect to child custody, parenting time (visitation), and child support.
The friend of the court office is also required to provide directly or through contract, alternative dispute resolution both formally and informally through mediation programs.
Child Support Enforcement Agency
The friend of the court office, as a social agency, is the only entity that provides ongoing case-management in domestic relations actions and assists parties to those actions in receiving access to the justice system. Since 1974, the federal government under Title IV-D of the Social Security Administration Act, has required states to have a child support enforcement agency (IV-D agency). In Michigan, that agency is the Office of Child Support (OCS) which is a division of the Department of Human Services (DHS). The OCS contracts with the counties and courts to have the prosecuting attorney and the friend of the court office provide child support enforcement activities, known as IV-D activities.