Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Welcome to Friend of the Court

 

Cass County FOC Mission:
Serving and empowering families to make children's lives better.

This page contains information about FOC staff, and how to file complaints concerning the legal system. 

TO VIEW THE FOC REFEREE DOCKET, CLICK HERE
(updated every Friday)

About the Office of the Friend of the Court . . .

The Office of the Friend of the Court was created by the Michigan Legislature in 1919. There is at least one office for each Circuit Court, which usually means one FOC office in each county. It is important to get information from the FOC office in the county where your case is situated. You should not rely on information from other parents and their experiences. Each case has unique circumstances that determine what action is appropriate and each county’s FOC can be very different, so what happens in one case in one county may not be a good indicator of what will happen in another case. Also, laws change over time, and what happens at one time in one case may not apply in another.  

If you have questions about FOC operations, contact the Director of the FOC at FOC@cassco.org .  The FOC would rather prevent problems before they happen than try to correct them later, so questions are welcomed.

FOC Staff

The Director of the FOC and supervisors are responsible for the general administration, budgeting, staffing, policies, and procedures of the office. 

The Support Enforcement Division is responsible for the collection and enforcement of all child support orders, including reimbursements of uninsured medical expenses for the minor child; interstate collection and enforcement; and bench warrant and felony arrests of non-payers support. 

The Order Modification Caseworker conducts financial investigations, makes recommendations, and files petitions for child support orders. This person also conducts and assists in processing child support motions filed by persons who are not represented by an attorney. 

The Accounting Division is responsible for data entry and updating of information on all cases. This can include changes of address, employers, correct charging amounts of court ordered support, payments, account adjustments (including parenting time abatements), income tax refund intercept, and records of all support account collections and distributions. They also help parents to obtain the forms that help them to represent themselves in domestic’s relation’s cases. 

Legal Advice

Most of the FOC staff are NOT attorneys. They are not permitted to give you legal advice. They will work hard to provide you with as much information as they are permitted to provide to help you make the best possible choices for your children. They also will tell you when your questions require legal advice, and will urge you to consult with an attorney on those issues, so that you have the information necessary for making good and informed choices. In some circumstances the Director of the FOC (who is an attorney) can meet with you to help you understand your legal options, although he may not represent you or favor one parent over the other. 

Complaints About the Domestic Relations Legal System

Q. Why won’t the FOC refer me to an attorney, or provide one for me?
     A. The FOC is part of the Family Division of Circuit Court with services for processing its domestic relations cases, and enforcing its orders. The FOC cannot show preference for any particular attorney by referring clients to them. The U.S. Constitution guarantees your right to an attorney if you cannot afford one and you are facing possible jailing. The two circumstances when FOC enforcement action might lead to jailing are felony non-payment of support, or an Order to Show Cause hearing either support or parenting time). Those are the only times an appointed attorney would be made available if the Court decides that you cannot afford to retain one on your own.

The State Bar of Michigan has a Lawyer Referral and Information Service that can be contacted by calling 1-800-968-0738.

Q. How do I file a complaint about my attorney? 
     A. The Attorney Grievance Commission will accept complaints about alleged misconduct of Michigan attorneys. Anyone who has serious concerns about the behavior of an attorney can contact:

Attorney Grievance Commission
535 Griswold, Suite 1700
Detroit, MI 48226

Telephone: (313) 961-6585

However, if the attorney represented you properly but you are just unhappy with the outcome, this is not a sufficient basis for a grievance.

Q. How do I complain about my court order?
     A. If you do not believe your order is appropriate, you must change it in one of two ways:
• Reach an agreement with the other parent, and submit a Stipulation changing it; or
• File a motion asking the Court to change your order over the other parent’s objections.
• If you have gone through a hearing, and disagree with the decision made by the Court, contact an attorney to discuss your legal options, such as Motion for Rehearing, or the filing an appeal with Michigan Court of Appeals. Until your court order is changed by a new court order, you are required to follow the existing order. Court orders are not covered under the FOC grievance procedure. 

Q. How do I file a complaint against the FOC? 
   A. The law provides a grievance procedure that a party can use when they have complaint about FOC operations or employees. A grievance may not be used to disagree with a decision of a Judge or a FOC or Referee recommendation.  You can file a grievance in two ways:
     • by filing a Grievance Form; or
     • by filing a letter clearly identified as a grievance with the FOC. 

The FOC must investigate and answer your grievance within a reasonable period of time, generally within 30 days.  If you do not agree with the FOC answer to your grievance, you can file a further grievance, in writing, with the Chief Circuit Court Judge. The Chief Circuit Court Judge will investigate and answer your grievance within a reasonable period of time.  The FOC grievance procedure ends with the response of the Chief Circuit Court Judge. There is no further appeal.

Judge or Referee

Q. How do I complain about the conduct of the Judge or a Referee?
     A. The Judicial Tenure Commission reviews grievances about alleged judicial misconduct. Anyone who has serious concerns about the conduct of a Judge or Referee can contact:

     Judicial Tenure Commission
     Comerica Building, Suite 1410
     211 West Fort Street
     Detroit Michigan 48226
      Phone: 313-256-9104 

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