The Friend of the Court (FOC) is a division of the circuit court that handles any divorce matters involving minor children. The support from the Friend of the Court is free, and it is intended to simplify Michigan divorce so it is easier on the divorcing couple and their children.
1. The FOC handles three major matters.
Child custody, parenting time, and child support are all major areas of concern for the court in divorce cases. The Friend of the Court assists parties in managing the details of these matters.
2. The FOC conducts investigations when necessary.
If a divorcing couple cannot agree on child custody, parenting time, and child support, the FOC conducts an investigation to determine these matters for them. The investigation can include interviews with the parties and their children as well as a document review.
The FOC also takes into consideration the willingness and ability of the parties to maintain a stable environment for the children with the proper care, prove their moral fitness and mental and physical health, and willingly facilitate a parent-child relationship with the other parent. The FOC makes recommendations for custody and support, keeping the best interests of the child at the forefront.
3. The division determines child support.
The FOC uses the Michigan child support guideline manual to make recommendations about the amount of monthly child support payments. Child support is, quite simply, a formula, and it is impacted by the amount of overnight parenting time each parent has. The FOC also takes into consideration the income of the non-custodial parent, as well as childcare expenses, the health of the children, and medical expenses.
4. The FOC determines parenting time.
The goal is to provide divorcing parents with as close to equal parenting time as possible. Typically, the non-custodial parent will have the minor children every other weekend, one night a week, alternate holidays, and for a period of weeks in the summer. The FOC helps determine the most logical and least disruptive (to the children) plan for parenting time.
5. The FOC enforces child support payments.
Just because a divorce decree states that one party will pay the other party a certain amount of child support every month, that doesn’t mean the payment will actually be made. The FOC enforces child support payments.
6. Help is always there.
The FOC helps divorcing couples throughout their divorce proceedings and is available to assist with changes to custody or child support after the divorce judgment has been entered.
7. You can opt out of the FOC.
While it is highly recommended that couples take advantage of the FOC service, some divorcing parties choose to opt out of the FOC. They believe they can navigate their divorce amicably with no intervention from a third party. When it comes to matters involving children and the money that is needed to take care of the children, however, things can get heated. Financial circumstances can shift. The FOC is a voice of reason that reiterates the rules of child support and diffuses problems, so children are not negatively impacted by their parents’ disagreements.
Are you on the path to divorce? Schedule your free initial consultation with a Michigan divorce attorney at Femminineo Attorneys, PLLC to ask your questions and determine what’s next.