Charlevoix Child Custody Process – Virtual Tour

What is the Child Custody Process or Virtual Tour for Charlevoix County?

     This virtual tour is meant to give you an idea of the process that is used to decide child custody cases in Charlevoix Michigan.  That is, what happens when someone, such as a divorce lawyer,  custody lawyer, or a person filing on their own behalf, files a complaint and then pursues a custody case in Charlevoix County, Michigan?  

On each subject we will be discussing these topics:  1.  Who is involved.  2.  Where do I go?  What is the process?   We will be giving you links to websites for the various organizations that are involved, like Friend of the Court and the County Clerk.  We will be discussing who makes the decisions in Charlevoix County for custody, parenting time and support cases, and also discussing how the court would get from one stage to the next stage in very general terms.

What Cases Are Handled This Way and Why Does It Matter?

     Most of this process applies to child custody, child support and parenting time motions in Charlevoix County.  However, I will refer throughout these pages to custody alone so that I do not have to repeat “parenting time and child support” over and over again.  Cases in Charlevoix County can end up there for a variety of reasons.  A case may be handled by Charlevoix County even if the parties live elsewhere depending on how the case was started and whether it was transferred anywhere.   

     The process matters because the process in child custody cases can be very confusing to people that have not been through the process before and sometimes can be challenging even for attorneys that do these cases everyday.  To complicate things further, each county handles things differently and each case may actually even be handled a bit differently on a case by case basis.  So this information is provided as guide, not as a definitive authority.  Sometimes if we have an idea what is coming, it can be easier to handle it.  

It also matters because, as they say, the devil is in the details.  Follow the wrong procedure or miss a step, and it can materially effect your case and cost you dearly, even resulting in dismissal of your case or sanctions against you (such as you having to pay attorney fees).  This is not intended to be used as legal authority or as advice on how to navigate your way through a child custody, support or parenting time issue on your own without a lawyer. I point out the fact that procedure is important through these pages so that you can understand why having an experienced child custody attorney is important to any child custody, parenting time or child support case.  Attorneys usually will not even represent themselves in custody proceedings because the issues are so emotionally difficult that it clouds their professional judgment.  Going through a child custody case without an attorney is like trying to find your way through a maze when you are extremely emotionally overwhelmed.  Your emotions alone will make it difficult to complete the maze and will result in errors you would not have made otherwise.

The point of these pages is to give you a level of comfort with the people and the places that will be involved in your life on this journey through the court system.  Hopefully that will make the whole process easier for you.

 Overview of Our Virtual Tour

Here is the virtual tour of a custody case in Charlevoix County Michigan with links to the pages we have created to explain these steps in more detail.  

  1.  Child Custody Motion.  A complaint or motion is filed in the Circuit Court.
  2. Friend of the Court Notified.  Friend of the Court is notified by copies of the motion or complaint being served on the Friend of the Court.
  3. Referee Hearing.  The parties appear at a hearing.
  4. Child Custody Trial.  Testimony is taken at an evidentiary hearing.
  5. Referee Decision on Custody.  The referee makes a decision.
  6. If You Lose Custody You Can Object.  The parties have 21 days to file an objection to the referee’s decision.
  7. Custody Hearing.  If an objection is properly filed and noticed for hearing, the matter is set for a short hearing or pretrial conference in front of the Circuit Court Judge.
  8. Custody Trial.  An evidentiary hearing (or trial) is conducted.
  9. Judge’s Decision on Custody.  A decision is issued.
  10. Appeal Period.  Either party may appeal.