Who is Involved in Charlevoix Custody Hearings in Front of the Referee?
At this stage, your case will now be heard in Court. The custody case is usually set for a court hearing, however, and not a trial. A court hearing is a short appearance in front of the referee where the referee decides if your custody case will proceed to trial.
The Circuit Court Referee in Charlevoix County is Scott T. Beatty. Scott Beatty is an attorney licensed in the State of Michigan. He has been an attorney for approximately 41 years and has practiced in many different areas, including family law. He has served as the Family Court Referee for at least 3 years. The Family Court Referee is appointed by the Circuit Court Judge.
Where do I go?
Referee hearings occur in the Charlevoix County Circuit Court room. This is downstairs in the Charlevoix County Court house at 301 State Street Charlevoix, Michigan 49720. If you park in the parking lot and go in the main entrance, you walk straight to the end of the hallway and take a right. You then go to the second to last door down that hall on the right. The last door is the Circuit Court Probation Office. The door to the Circuit Court Room has a metal detector outside and a bailiff will be there to monitor who is coming in and to protect the referee and the litigants.
What is the process?
The parties appear at a hearing in front of the Circuit Court Referee, Scott T. Beatty. This hearing takes place in the Charlevoix County Circuit Court courtroom. This hearing is different from a trial. However, Mr. Beatty usually does put the parties under oath. Consequently the information that is provided to the referee at this hearing could be used in future hearings as substantive evidence or as impeachment evidence.
A hearing usually does not have taking testimony and evidence as it’s primary purpose, although at Charlevoix County referee hearings some testimony can be taken because the referee places both parties under oath.
The referee will need to know if the parties want an evidentiary hearing (this is a trial) and how long the parties believe it will take to present their evidence. Unless there are exceptional circumstances, Charlevoix County usually limits evidentiary hearings in front of the referee to 2 hours.
The party that filed the motion or defending it may also be asked to give an “offer of proof.” That means that the party that filed is being asked to summarize the evidence that they will present at an evidentiary hearing. I have had many people come to me after they went to this hearing (without a lawyer) complaining that the judge did not listen to them and dismissed their case. That is because they didn’t know what an “offer of proof” was and further had no idea that they needed to establish a change in circumstances or proper cause or let the judge know what kind of evidence they planned on presenting to meet their burden of proof. If they did know that, they didn’t know what the caselaw was or the legal standard they had to meet to establish their burden of proof. Remember, these are cases where the party filing the motion had a good motion but was not able to follow proper procedure and so their case did not make it in front of even the referee for a trial.
As experienced custody lawyers we have been through the referee hearing process hundreds of times and also attend regular training to keep up to date with any changes. It may look easy when you watch attorneys do this, but it is not easy at all for someone without training and experience.