Both parties are required to attend a facilitative and information gathering conference to present their positions and information to an FOC investigator. In Ingham County, attorneys are permitted to attend the meeting as observers only. The conference is non-adversarial and intended to allow the parties a chance to agree upon how to resolve custody, parenting time and child support matters. If there is a Personal Protection Order (PPO) in place, the parties may meet with the investigator separately depending on the wording of the PPO.
Should both parties attend the conference and reach an agreement, the investigator will draft a Stipulation and Order, which the parties would then sign. The Stipulation and Order would then be forwarded to the judge assigned to the case for signature.
If the parties are not able to reach an agreement, the Friend of the Court investigator will submit a timely recommendation to the court on the issues of custody, support, and parenting time.
WHEN THERE IS NO PRIOR EXISTING ORDER: If there is no prior existing order regarding custody, parenting time or child support, the investigator’s recommendation will be submitted for immediate entry as the order of the court. However, either party may object to that order by filing an objection within 14 days after the order was mailed (the date on the proof of mailing). Even if an objection is filed, the order of the court will remain in effect until the court modifies the order so that support, custody and parenting time orders will be legally binding on all parties.
WHEN THERE IS A PRIOR EXISTING ORDER: If there is an existing order, the investigator’s recommendation will not take immediate effect. The recommendation and order will be mailed to the parties (and attorneys if either party is represented). If neither party properly files an objection to the recommended order within 21 days of the date of mailing (the date on the proof of mailing), the proposed order will be signed by the judge assigned to the case and become the order of the court. If either party properly files an objection within the 21 days, a hearing will be scheduled before either a Friend of the Court referee or sometimes directly before the judge assigned to the case.