How Do I?
New Office Location
When is the Friend of the Court moving?
The Friend of the Court will begin moving the office the week of December 19, 2016. Effective December 27, 2016, the Friend of the Court will be completely moved to the new location at the old County Building, 10 N Main St, Mount Clemens, MI, 48043. The staff will be on floors one through seven. This building is on the northeast corner of Cass Ave and N Main St.
Where do I park when visiting the Friend of the Court Office?
There is a new parking structure located on N Main St, just south of the Macomb County Administration Building, on the east side of Main St. Entrance to the parking structure is on Main St, just south of Cass Ave. There is also metered parking available throughout the City of Mount Clemens.
What floor should I report to?
The Friend of the Court workers will be on floors one through seven. The floor to report to is dependent on what services you are looking for. Please view our new Staff Location page under About, for all worker locations effective December 27, 2016. If you are still unsure, please report to the 2nd floor to the Receptionist.
How do I get an order for custody?
Retain an attorney, or on your own behalf (in pro per), file a motion to establish custody and parenting time.
How do I change an existing order for custody?
Either with the assistance of an attorney, or acting on your own behalf (in pro per), if there is a material change in circumstances, or good cause, file a motion with the Circuit Court clerk to modify custody.
Does the Friend of the Court have a motion packet for change of custody?
Yes. The custody and parenting time motion packets (forms) may be obtained from the Friend of the Court Receptionist on the 2nd Floor in the old County Building located at 10 N Main St, Mount Clemens, MI 48043.
The other parent and I agree on a change of custody. Can the Friend of the Court help us obtain an order?
Not typically. You may obtain a pro per motion packet (forms) as indicated above. You must file a motion to modify custody even if you and the other parent agree to the change. Both parties must appear before the Court or Friend of the Court Referee to place their agreement on the record, during which time the Court, or the Referee, will examine the best interests factors contained in the Child Custody Act. If the parties agree on each and every aspect of custody, parenting time and child support they may contact the parenting time JSO to obtain consent forms which must be completed in full. Child support must be in compliance with the Michigan Child Support formula.
Can I ask the Friend of the Court for a custody investigation?
No. The Friend of the Court can only respond to the court order directing them to investigate the issue of custody.
Are there different types of custody?
Yes. There is Joint Legal, Sole Legal, Joint Physical, Sole Physical and combinations of the preceding.
I have an order granting me custody, but the other parent will not return the child. What should I do?
You may contact your Friend of the Court Parenting Time Judicial Service Officer to request an order to show cause for failure to return. You may further elect to retain an attorney, seek assistance from legal aid, or appear on your own behalf (in pro per) to file a motion for immediate return. If your custody order is clear, you may also contact the local police department to assist you.
What age does my child(ren) get to choose which parent they want to live with?
At the age of eighteen (18).
What is the Michigan Custody Guideline?
Click here to view the Michigan Custody Guideline from the State Court Administrative Office, Friend of the Court Bureau.
My parenting time order indicates I have reasonable parenting time rights. What does that mean?
Reasonable parenting time is a legal term of art. Quite simply, it means whatever is reasonable between the two competing parties. There are a number of parenting time schedules which would equate with reasonable rights of parenting time, such as alternating weekends. However, without a specific parenting time schedule, it is virtually impossible to enforce denial of reasonable rights of parenting time. The Macomb County Family Court has adopted a reasonable parenting time schedule which can be readily enforced. If you have difficulty operating under a reasonable rights of parenting time theory, it is suggested that a motion be filed to specifically delineate the non-custodial parties' parenting time.
If the non-custodial party is not making child support payments, do I have to allow parenting time?
Yes. As parenting time and support are separate parts of a court order with separate enforcement procedures.
The other party is violating our current parenting time order. What can I do?
File a written complaint with the Friend of the Court. You may either send it by mail or bring it in person to the Friend of the Court to discuss your issues. If the Friend of the Court believes the parenting time order has been violated, they will start enforcement action.
My parenting time order needs to be changed. What can I do?
You may file a motion on your own or by obtaining a petition packet through the Friend of the Court, or you may contact an attorney to file a motion on your behalf. The Friend of the Court is obligated to continue enforcing the existing parenting time order until it is changed.
Does the Friend of the Court have petition packets for parenting time?
Yes. You may obtain a petition packet at the Friend of the Court. However, the Friend of the Court cannot give you legal advice as to how to file a motion.
Do I have to let my children go for parenting time if it appears the other party has been drinking?
This is your decision as a parent. If you deny parenting time in such a situation, you may have to explain to the Court, at a "show cause" hearing why you felt your decision was in the best interest of your child(ren).
Does the Friend of the Court investigate alleged abuse and/or neglect of the child(ren)?
My child does not want to go with the other parent. Do I have to make them?
You are required to follow the court order as it is written. A child does not get to choose their visitation schedule. Each parent should promote a positive relationship with the other parent.
I am not receiving my child support payments; do I have to let my child go for parenting time?
Yes. Child support and parenting time are separate court orders. You may not deny parenting time resulting in a violation of your court order.
How do I report a violation in my parent time order by the other parent?
Complete and submit the Parenting Time Complaint Form.
I was denied my court ordered parenting time, what can I do?
Complete and submit the Parenting Time Complaint Form.
The other parent is not exercising his/her parenting time, what should I do?
We cannot force a parent to utilize the parenting time they are entitled to.
The other parent will not let me talk to my child(ren) on the phone, what can I do?
We cannot enforce telephone communications between the parties or with the children. We encourage each parent to promote a positive relationship with the other parent.
What are issues can I submit a complaint form for?
Litigants may submit a parenting time complaint form or speak to the Judicial Service Officer for enforcement action on the following:
- Denials of parenting time
- Failure to return the child(ren) to the custodial parent
- Change of domicile violations
- Excessive tardiness for parenting time exchanges
- specific joint legal custody violations
Litigants may enforce these matters privately by filing a motion. The parenting time department cannot take enforcement action on the following:
- Extracurricular activities or sporting activities
- Communication issues (including phone calls, texts, harassment, or Our Family Wizard issues)
- Parental Cooperation Orders
- A non-custodial parent not exercising his/her parenting time
- Children's belongings, including clothes, electronics, and toys not being returned
I am a payer of support. How do I make a payment?
You need to mail or bring in payments yourself, directly to the Friend of the Court or the Michigan State Disbursement Unit (MiSDU) until your employer starts deducting support payments, from you paycheck. If you are a 1099 employee or self-employed, you will need to send in payments on your own.
You can make payments:
1. In person at the cashier window, located at the Macomb County Friend of the Court, 10 N. Main St, Mount Clemens, MI 48043, on the first floor. The window is open Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Cash, check, and credit/debit cards are accepted.
2. Online through the MiSDU website. You can make one payment or set up reoccurring payments, up to six months. Please note: A 2.35% processing fee is charged for credit card/debit card payments.
3. Online through the website, govpaynow.com. There are two account codes for Macomb County Friend of the Court. The first is 1441 to make a child support payment, and the other is 7822 for Investigative fees. There is a fee to use this service.
4. By phone – Using a credit/debit card. Call the Michigan child support county interactive voice response (IVR) at 877-543-2660 and follow the IVR payment instructions. Please allow up to three (3) business days for phone transactions to be applied to your case.
5. By phone – Using a credit/debit card through govpaynet.com at 1-888-604-7888. Macomb County Friend of the Court account code is 1441 to make a child support payment. This service is available 24/7.
6. By mail using a check or money order. Mail payments directly to MiSDU:
P.O. Box 30351
Lansing, MI 48909-7851
Be sure to include your case number, your name, county code of 50 for Macomb County, and FIPS code of 26099, on your check or money order. Payment coupons can be printed from MiSDU.com, or the Macomb County Friend of the Court website: FORMS>Temporary Payment Coupons.
7. By income withholding order which is when your employer deducts child support payments from your paycheck and sends them directly to the Michigan State Disbursement Unit (MiSDU).
8. Use PayNearMe. This is a service which allows confidential child support payments made in cash at certain stores: Seven Eleven, Family Dollar, and CVS. There is a $1.99 per transaction fee. You have to set up an account through MiSDU to obtain a pin number to be used at the store of your choice. You can find out more information about how to make these payments by going to the MiSDU website, including a map showing all locations near your home, where payments can be made.
9. New service as of 09/13/2017. Use MoneyGram. MiSDU has partnered with MoneyGram to allow payers to make their child support payments, with cash, at CVS Pharmacy and Walmart stores nationwide. Please note this service is not available at CVS Pharmacy locations within Target and other retail stores. Payments must be made in person. Payments cannot be made at online at MoneyGram.com. To make payments using the MoneyGram service, bring enough cash for your child support payment, and the $3.99 transaction fee. You will need to know the docket number for your case, and the Michigan Receive code of 14689, to successfully process your payment. Complete your transaction at the cash counter or payment kiosk and retain/keep store receipt. Payments may take 3-5 business days to process.
Your employer will also be sent an income withholding order, which is a court order telling your employer or source of income to deduct child support payments from your paycheck and mail the support payment to MiSDU. MiSDU will then forward the payments to the support recipient. If you change employers, you will need to send in payments, on your own, until your new employer starts deducting support payments from your check.
It is your responsibility to provide your new employer information to the Friend of the Court. Payment coupons may be printed from MiSDU.com or from the Friend of the Court website, macombgov.org/FOC-Home under FORMS>Temporary Payment Coupons.
How do I receive child support payments?
The State of Michigan is required, by law, to send child support payments electronically.
If you are to receive child support payments, you may elect to receive them one of two ways:
- Direct deposit into a personal checking or savings account; or
- Direct deposit to a child support debit card.
You will receive a check for your first payment, but will be asked to set up either direct deposit or a debit card. If you do not make a choice, you will automatically be issued a debit card.
Setting Up Electronic Payments
If you choose to use direct deposit, please complete the Direct Deposit authorization form. Print the form, complete the requested information, and sign it. You will need to attach a voided personal check to have the funds deposited into your checking account. To have funds deposited into your savings account, you will need to contact your bank to get written verification of your account and routing numbers. Attach the written verification to the completed Direct Deposit form, and mail to the address provided on the form.
If you choose to receive child support payments on a debit card, please complete the Debit Card form. Print the form, complete the requested information, and sign it. Mail to the address provided on the form. There is no pre-authorization or credit check process to receive this card. Your child support payments are deposited on a US Bank ReliaCard Visa debit card. This card is used as a Visa debit card only. Only the State of Michigan may deposit funds into this account. For additional ReliaCard Visa Debit Card information and associated fees click here.
You may also hear information about your child support case by calling the Michigan child support county interactive voice response (IVR) at 877-543-2660.
This information provided by MiSDU.
How do I obtain or modify an order for support?
A motion asking the Court to order or modify child support must be filed with the Court. If both parties agree to establish or modify support at the amount shown by the formula, they 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 an order of support. Additionally, once every 3 years a party may submit a written request to the Friend of the Court to obtain a review of support.
What is a Friend of the Court support petition packet?
If you wish to modify your child support without benefit of an attorney, you may appear at the Friend of the Court and obtain a support petition packet. The petition packet contains forms that will allow you to motion the Court in pro per for a modification of your current support order. Should you choose to motion the Court on your own, the Friend of the Court cannot provide legal advice or assistance.
What is the child support formula?
The child support formula provides the Friend of the Court direction when they are ordered by the Court to make a recommendation regarding child support. The Friend of the Court, when making a recommendation and the judge when making a determination must use the child support formula. Deviating from the formula may occur when there is a justifiable reason why using the formula is inappropriate. A deviation from the formula must be placed on the record by the Court.
If the custodial parent is not allowing me to see my child, do I still have to pay child support?
Yes. Parenting time and child support are separate parts of a court order with separate enforcement procedures.
If the non-custodial parent is not paying child support, what can I do?
Contact the Friend of the Court for enforcement if the back support equals at least one month of past due payments. Your complaint should be forwarded to your Judicial Service Officer either in writing, by phone, or you may appear in person at the Friend of the Court between the hours of 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM, Monday through Friday.
How are the child support payments distributed if the non-custodial parent on the file has more than one obligation?
Distribution is a federally prescribed formula for determining how to apply payments to the various support accounts. Distribution rules require current child support owed be paid first. If the non-custodial parent has more than one case, and has paid less than the current support owed the system will look at all the non-custodial parent's open cases and allocate the payment among the cases proportionally.
Can I send child support payments directly to the custodial parent?
Not without changing your court order. Support is paid through the MiSDU in order that an official record of payments is maintained. If you want credit for payments made directly to the custodial party, you must obtain a court order that directs the Friend of the Court to credit your account for the specific amount.
How can I opt out of Friend of the Court services?
An order exempting a case from Friend of the Court services may be sought only after a judgment has been entered. The order to exempt case from FOC services must include a signed Advice of Rights Form. An order can be obtained only through motion of the Court.
The custodial parent is not spending the child support payments on my child(ren), what can you do?
The law does not give the Friend of the Court the authority to verify how child support payments are being spent.
The non-custodial parent on my file is self-employed and not making child support payments, what can you do?
Income Withholding Orders may not always be effective when the payer is self-employed. In these cases, the Friend of the Court may:
- Motion the Court for contempt of Court (Show Cause Hearing).
- Submit the payer for an Income Tax intercept.
- File a lien on the payer's real or personal property.
- Motion the Court for a Cash Performance Bond to be posted by the payer to guarantee future payments are made.
- Report the payer to Consumer Reporting Agencies.
- Motion the Court for suspension of Professional License or Driver's License.
What do I do if I have an order to pay support and I become unemployed?
If you have lost your job, it is extremely important you notify the Friend of the Court as soon as possible. Depending on the circumstances, you may be eligible for a child support review. The Friend of the Court may be able to file a Petition for a child support review by our Support Investigation Department. The child support review could result in a reduction of the child support, if applicable. If you have applied for unemployment benefits, please provide written proof you applied for the benefits. If you have been approved or denied for unemployment benefits, please bring in the letter from unemployment telling you you have been approved or denied.
There is a bench warrant for my arrest, what should I do?
You must come into the Friend of the Court and see a Judicial Service Officer between the hours of 8:00 AM and 4:30 PM, Monday through Friday. Our office will not handle a bench warrant over the phone. The Friend of the Court office is moving the week of December 19, 2016. Please check our new staff locations page to find which floor your caseworker is located. If you are not sure who your caseworker is, you may go to the 2nd Floor of the old County Building to see the receptionist.
I disagree with the arrearage reflected on my account, can I get an accounting?
Yes. The Friend of the Court will prepare one (1) accounting per year on each account. Once the accounting is completed and mailed to you, you should review it against your records. If you disagree with the results, please contact the number provided. If the issues cannot be resolved over the phone, it may be necessary for you to schedule an appointment with the Account Clerk to go over your account in detail.
The non-custodial parent has left the State of Michigan and is not paying support, what can I do?
After we have exhausted all of our local civil remedies and we are still unable to secure compliance with the Court Order, our office will proceed with interstate enforcement. Before we proceed there must exist a current bench warrant for the arrest of the non-custodial party for non-support and there must be a recently verified address for the non-custodial parent.
I lost my job, what should I do?
Come in and speak with your child support caseworker. It is your responsibility to keep your caseworker informed of your current situation. We also partner with Michigan Works! to assist in finding employment. The Michigan Works! representative will be located on the 2nd Floor of the old County Building, 10 N Main St, Mount Clemens, MI, 48043, effective December 27, 2016.
What is a National Medical Support Notice (NMSN)?
The NMSN is a notice sent to an employer, ordering the employer to enroll the minor child(ren) on the health care insurance if the premiums do not exceed reasonable cost as defined by the Consumer's Credit Protection Act.
I have medical bills I have incurred for my minor child(ren). How do I receive reimbursement from the non-custodial party?
The Friend of the Court will assist in the reimbursement of the minor children's uninsured healthcare expenses. It will be necessary to obtain the reimbursement forms from the Friend of the Court Office, and follow the procedure explained on the Medical Program Information sheet.
What is the ordinary healthcare supplement?
Each child support order issued or modified after October 1, 2004 will include an amount that the non-custodial party will pay each month toward "ordinary uninsured healthcare expenses" incurred on behalf of the minor child(ren). This will assist the custodial party in paying for the minor child(ren)'s health expenses as they are incurred. The custodial party may not seek reimbursement from the non-custodial party for the "extraordinary uninsured healthcare expenses", until the ordinary healthcare amount of $289.00 per child has been met annually.
What is the SMILE program?
SMILE (Start Making It Livable for Everyone) is a two-hour educational program for separating/divorcing parents with children under the age of 18. It is sponsored by the Macomb County Circuit Court Family Division and the Friend of the Court, and is facilitated by Community Assessment Referral and Education (CARE). Parents who have a pending divorce in Macomb County receive a letter signed by their assigned judge inviting them to the next SMILE presentation. SMILE is an educational opportunity for parents to learn ways to make the separation/divorce experience less painful for their child(ren). It is also an opportunity for parents to learn about resources in their community that can help their child(ren) through this difficult time. Further information may be obtained by calling CARE at (586) 541-0033, or by visiting the CARE web-site at www.careofmacomb.com.
I would like to move my child(ren) out of the State of Michigan, what should I do?
Parties may agree to a Change of Domicile by signing an agreement. Once this agreement is put into the form of an Order, signed by the Judge, and filed with the County Clerk, it will become an Order of the Court. If you and the other party cannot mutually agree upon a Change of Domicile, you may (a) contact the other party and see if they will agree to mediation, or (b) file a motion on your own, or have an attorney file a motion for you.
Notifying the Friend of the Court, or filing a motion, does not allow you to move your child(ren) from the State of Michigan. You must obtain a court order granting this change prior to moving from the state.
Can the Friend of the Court enforce a property settlement contained in my Judgment of Divorce?
The Friend of the Court is required to enforce custody, parenting time, and support provisions of orders. The Friend of the Court lacks power to enforce property issues. The Court has the ability to enforce its own order; therefore, you may file a motion with the Court if there is a need for property settlement enforcement.
I just moved to Michigan, but I already have a support order from another state. How do I get the payments to come through the Friend of the Court?
You must obtain a referral from the State of Michigan's Office of Child Support, a division of the Department of Human Services. You may contact them by calling 1-866-540-0008.
How do I change my address with the Friend of the Court?
You can change your address with the Friend of the Court by mail, facsimile (fax), or by personally appearing at the Friend of the Court. All change of address requests must include your signature. We will not accept a change of address for a custodial party through email. You may download the change of address form here,from our website. After the file is downloaded, please fill in the information, sign, and either fax to our office at 586-469-7941, or mail the signed form to our office. Our new address is 10 N Main St, Mount Clemens, MI 48043. We will accept a change of address for a non-custodial party via email. Emails must include identifying information including your name, case number, Judge and who your mail is addressed to. Failure to provide proper case identification could result in your email being returned. If you choose to return the Change of Address form in person, please take it to the 2nd Floor of the old County Building, 10 N Main St, Mount Clemens, MI 48043, between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.. This building is on the northeast corner of Cass Ave and N Main St.
What is a Friend of the Court Referee and what can they do?
A Referee is an Attorney who hears motions, holds hearings, examines witnesses, and makes recommendations to the Court.
A Referee can either be the Director of the Friend of the Court or an Attorney designated by the Chief Circuit Judge.
The Family Court Bench may direct a Referee to hear any domestic relations actions, except an increase or decrease in spousal support (alimony).
A Referee hearing is different then a Court hearing. The findings of a Referee are Recommendations to the Court, and are not final. However, a Referee's Recommendation may become a court order if neither party files objections. Parties may stipulate to a Binding Referee Hearing or arbitration.
State Law requires that any written report or recommendation prepared by a Referee be given to the parties and their attorneys before the Judge takes action on the Recommendation.
If a party disagrees with a Referee's Recommendation after the Evidentiary Hearing, she/he has the right to a de novo (a new) hearing before the Judge. Objections to the Referee's Recommendation, and a request for hearing, must be made within 21 days from the time that the Recommendation is mailed. An objection to a motion hearing must be made by the Friday following the motion date. Click here for instructions and required documents to file an Objection to Referee's Recommended Order.
What is a Judicial Service Officer (JSO) and what do they do?
The Friend of the Court JSO manages a Friend of the Court case load of approximately 3,000 cases. The JSO will review and respond to correspondence and enforce support, parenting time, and custody orders. The JSO will also appear in Court on Show Cause and Bench Warrant Hearings. A JSO may also authorize petitions, ex parte orders, and other Court Orders as appropriate.
My child(ren)'s parent has not paid child support as was court ordered. Can they be charged with a Felony?
Under the Federal and State Law, failing to pay child support may be a Felony. The Friend of the Court office cannot bring Felony charges. State charges are filed and prosecuted by local county prosecutors. Generally, the Friend of the Court would not recommend the Prosecutor's Office pursue a felony charge unless all Friend of the Court efforts to gain compliance have failed, there is an ability to pay or sufficient evidence of the individual's ability to pay, there is a reasonable likelihood that prosecution would result in compliance, and the offender is more than $20,000 in arrears. If there is not $20,000 owed in arrears, the Friend of the Court may still recommend Felony enforcement if there has been substantial prior enforcement efforts.
What are the Friend of the Court hours of operation?
The Friend of the Court is open from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday. An individual may appear any time during the course of our open hours to discuss their case with a JSO. Effective January 4, 2016, office hours for Judicial Service Officers and Parenting Time Judicial Service Officers will end at 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Office hours for Cashier's Office, Medical Enforcement, and the Interstate Department will remain the same, ending weekdays, at 5:00 p.m. We apologize for any inconvenience to those visiting our office. Our office is located at 10 N Main St, Mount Clemens, MI 48043. Map It!
I have some issues I want to discuss regarding my file and I don't want to talk over the telephone. What should I expect if I show up at the Friend of the Court?
If you wish to discuss a child support, custody, or parenting time issue with a JSO, you may appear at the Friend of the Court between the hours of 8:00 AM and 4:30 PM. If your assigned JSO is not available, another JSO will assist you. Referees do not take walk-ins. Any time you appear, you can expect to be treated in a courteous and respectful manner. Please remember the Friend of the Court does not advocate for either party and we are not allowed by Law to dispense legal advice. If you do not know who your caseworker is, please report to Reception on the 2nd Floor.
How do I access my Friend of the Court records?
Access to Friend of the Court records is governed by Michigan Court Rule 3.218, statute and Local Administrative Order 2002-4. A person wishing to access Friend of the Court records shall mail or deliver form FOC72, entitled Request to access Friend of the Court Records and Decision, or written request with sufficient information, to the Friend of the Court. The Friend of the Court have five (5) working days to review and determine if the request will be granted or denied, in full or in part.
May I contact the Friend of the Court through e-mail?
You may contact the Friend of the Court by email. You may send your email to FriendoftheCourt@macombgov.org and it will be routed to the proper Macomb County Friend of the Court employee. Please remember your email will be processed in the same manner and time frame as our regular mail. Emails will not receive priority over correspondence received through regular mail. If a reply is necessary it will be in the form of a letter, through regular mail. We will not respond via email. If you have an emergency or an issue you feel needs immediate attention please either contact our office by phone or appear in person during regular office hours.
How do I file an Objection to the Referee's Recommended Order?
If a party disagrees with a Referee's Recommended Order, she/he has the right to a de novo (a new) hearing before the Judge. Objections to the Referee's Recommendation, and a request for hearing, must be made within 21 days from the time that the Recommendation is mailed. Click here for the instructions and required documents to file an objection.