ABATE (abatement): to reduce, end or suspend. Usually refers to reducing support for extended parenting time.
ATTORNEY: A lawyer; a person admitted to practice law who is licensed to represent the legal interests of another person and speak for that person.
CASE NUMBER: The number assigned to a case. This number is the same for the FOC case and the court case. The case number includes the year the case started. The case number always remains the same. Also called a "docket number" or a "file number".
CHIEF JUDGE: In courts with two or more judges, one judge is selected by the Michigan Supreme Court as chief judge for the county. The chief judge is the director of the administration of the court.
CHILD ABUSE/NEGLECT: The mistreatment (physical, mental, or emotional abuse) of a minor by an adult. Reports of suspected child abuse should be reported to the county DHS, office of Children Protective Services in the county where the suspected abuse occurred.
CHILD CUSTODY ACT: This law states how custody of a child is to be determined and includes the factors the judge uses to decide custody and parenting time. The same factors are addressed by the FOC when completing a custody evaluation and report.
CHILD SUPPORT: The payment of money for the support of a child in a divorce, paternity, or family support act proceeding. Support includes but is not limited to general (or base) support, healthcare, childcare, and educational expenses.
CIRCUIT COURT: The trial court in Michigan which hears many types of cases. A judge in the family division of this court hears custody, parenting time, and child support.
COMPLAINT: A document filed with the Court in an original action that asks for some form of relief.
CUSTODIAN: A parent or any other person who has physical custody of a child by court order.
CUSTODY: The care and keeping of children in a custody case. Child custody is a term that refers to rights and responsibilities for each parent and child. An award of custody is a court determination about the time a child is going to spend with each parent and each parent’s responsibility to make decisions on behalf of the child.
CUSTODY EVALUATION: The process of gathering the information that is considered, reviewed and submitted in a written report that includes a recommendation for custody and parenting time. The recommendation goes to a referee or judge hearing a custody dispute to help determine the best interests of a child.
CUSTODY EVALUATOR: The person that gathers information and evaluates factors then provides custody recommendations to the referees and judges.
DEFENDANT: The person against whom a Complaint is brought.
DOMESTIC RELATIONS REFEREE: A domestic relation’s referee is a lawyer the court appoints to hold a hearing and make a recommendation about an order. A decision made by a referee is final only if the parents do not object to the recommended order. If a parent objects to a referee’s recommended order that parent may have the matter further reviewed by the Judge.
DIVORCE: The legal termination of a marriage by a court order.
DOMICILE: The permanent home to which a person, when absent, always intends to return. The word domicile is usually used when a parent wants to move to another state with a child; this is called a change of domicile.
ENTER (entry): How and when an order becomes official. It includes getting the signature of a Judge on an order and filing that order with Court Clerk.
FAMILY DIVISION OF THE CIRCUIT COURT: The branch of the Circuit Court that is responsible for hearing cases about families and their children. The family division hears custody, parenting time, and child support cases, as well as juvenile cases that were formerly heard by the probate court. Also often referred to as “Family Court”
FRIEND OF THE COURT OFFICE: The office that investigates and makes recommendations to judges and domestic relations referees in matters related to minor children (custody, parenting time, and child support) and enforces court orders about these issues for the judge.
HEARING: A joint gathering of all parties and attorneys before a referee or judge, where both sides present their evidence on why proposed order should or should not be entered.
MEDIATION: A process where parents can try to reach an agreement without going to court. The FOC provides mediation services at the request of either parent or as directed by the Judge. If an agreement is reached through mediation, the Court can enter a consent order.
MICHIGAN COURT RULES: Procedures and rules established by the Michigan Supreme Court for judges, referees, and friends of the court to follow.
MOTION: A motion is a formal request made in writing to the court. A motion is sometimes called a petition.
MOVING PARTY: The person who starts an action in a case by filing a motion asking the Court to enter an order.
NATIONAL MEDICAL SUPPORT NOTICE: Medical support is often provided as health care insurance under a parent's policy, and the cost of the insurance is considered in the calculation of monetary child support orders. Additionally, the child support order may provide for a specific dollar amount to be deducted for medical purposes. Along with an income withholding order, employers may receive a national medical support notice, which provides direction to the employer on how medical support must be handled. Employers are required to honor medical support notices based on the laws cited above.
OBJECTION: A written document allowing a party to oppose a proposed or recommended order to prevent it from becoming a final order.
ORDER: A decision of the court made in writing.
PARENTING TIME: Time set aside by court order for a parent and child to spend together in the absence of a contrary agreement by the parties. Michigan law recognizes that it is in the best interests of the child that parenting time occurs in a frequency, duration, and type reasonably calculated to promote a strong relationship between the child and the parent. Parenting time should be on a regular schedule with specific consistent starting and ending times for the ease of the parties and child in planning their schedules.
PARTY: A person involved in a court case, usually the Plaintiff or the Defendant.
PENDING CASE: A case that has not been decided by the Judge yet.
PLAINTIFF: The person who files a Complaint with the Court to start a case.
PROPOSED ORDER: A suggested order that the Judge is being asked to approve and sign.
REFEREE’S RECOMMENDATION: The referee must provide a recommendation for an order to the judge, to the attorneys, or to the parents if they are not represented. A written objection and notice of hearing must be filed with the court within 21 days from the time the recommendation is sent by mail or given to the attorneys, or to the parents if they are not represented.
TEMPORARY ORDER: a court order that determines temporary custody, parenting time, and child support on a short term basis until a hearing is held and a final order entered.
TESTIMONY: The statement of a witness under oath given as evidence.
WITNESS: A person who testifies to what that person knows, saw, heard, or otherwise observed.