Who is the Charlevoix County Friend of the Court? (Who is involved)
The Friend of the Court is an office with many people in it that serves as an assistant to the court in domestic cases. The deputy Friend of the Court is a role at the Friend of the Court that is now held by Gerry Mayes. Each case also has a case worker that handles the case for enforcement purposes.
The address to Friend of the Court is 301 State Street Charlevoix, MI 49720.
The phone number to Friend of the Court is 231-547-7205
The role of the Friend of the Court is one of the most misunderstood aspects of the court by clients. I always say this: Their name is not “Friend of the Parents! The name is “Friend of the Court.” And I don’t say that because I think that Friend of the Court is “unfriendly” to parents. Actually, in Charlevoix County the whole Friend of the Court staff are pleasant, kind, and welcoming. However, some parents think that Friend of the Court is their advocate. Some of the things that Friend of the Court does may make it seem that way. For example, they enforce child support orders. When they do that, they may seem like they are advocating for the parent receiving support and against the person paying support. Sometimes it may seem the opposite, depending on the worker and the situation. In actuality they are only advocating to enforce the written order of the court.
If you file a parenting time enforcement request correctly, they will serve a 21 day notice to an alleged violator of parenting time and possibly even set the matter for a hearing. However, when you appear in court they are not your lawyer or your advocate. They do not stand next to you as your attorney. They will be in the courtroom, but it is you that must provide evidence to the court. They are not permitted to give you legal advice.
We have seen over and over again parties that believe Friend of the Court is their advocate. They then rely on Friend of the Court to enforce their rights and end up instead having their case seriously hurt.
The role of the Friend of the Court is
- investigating and evaluating cases that involve child support, custody and parenting time so it can make recommendations to the court about the most appropriate way to resolve disputes. In Charlevoix County these decisions are made by the Friend of the Court referee Scott T Beatty.
- assisting parties with mediation and alternative dispute resolution, and
- enforcing the court’s orders, including child support orders.
Where do I go?
The Friend of the Court office is upstairs on the second floor of the court house. If you take the elevator when you get off you take a right and go down the hall through the double doors and the Friend of the Court is on the right hand side at the glass windows. This is where you can file documents with the Friend of the Court and ask to speak to your case worker. If you have a court hearing, the Friend of the Court usually attends and may even speak at the hearing, offering information to the judge about your file.
What is the Process?
Friend of the Court is notified by copies of the motion or complaint being served on the Friend of the Court. The person filing the motion must file a notice of hearing and proof of service, give notice to Friend of the Court and provide proof that they gave notice.
It should be mentioned here that it is of the utmost importance to always treat the Friend of the Court with courtesy and respect. That means that if you are emotionally overwhelmed and upset, it is not a good time to go into Friend of the Court. Remember, you will have to deal with Friend of the Court for as long as your child is a minor, unless you opt out of their system. In some cases, opting out of the system is not practical or doable. Also, even if you do opt out, the other party to the case can opt back into Friend of the Court without your consent. In addition, Friend of the Court employees can be called as witnesses at court hearings.
In summary, although the Friend of the Court may do some things that benefit your case, they are not your advocate. Every party involved is always required to provide Friend of the Court with a copy of the documents in the case. In Charlevoix County that can be done by delivering the copies documents to Friend of the Court or providing a marked copy to the County Clerk.