FRIEND OF THE COURT
NOTICE: Please be advised that Clinton County is attempting to limit the amount of traffic in the Courthouse building. If your business matter can be conducted utilizing online services, we encourage you to do so. If you are unsure, please contact our office at 989-224-5136 and we can help you make the determination. If your business will require you to appear in person, please limit the number of individuals to ONLY those necessary to accomplish the matter at hand. Thank you.
About Friend of the Court
The Friend of the Court is an entity created by statute to assist the Family Division of Circuit Court in establishing, enforcing, and modifying orders related to custody, parenting time, domicile, child support, child care expenses, and medical expenses. Our staff is aware of the fact that we deal with sensitive issues involving your children, your family, and your finances. Our goal is to help you and the other parent to work together to serve the best interests of your children.
The Friend of the Court provides a wide array of services including facilitative and information gathering conferences, joint meetings, support reviews, child support enforcement, medical enforcement, and enforcement of custody and parenting time provisions. For more information, please review the Friend of the Court Handbook (PDF) and Parenting Time Guidelines (PDF).
Family Division Referee
Post-judgment motions regarding custody, parenting time, change of domicile, or child support may be referred for a hearing before the Family Division Referee. A hearing before the referee is very similar to a hearing before the judge. You may be represented by an attorney; you will likely be required to testify under oath; and you may call witnesses and enter exhibits to support your case.
After your hearing, the referee will issue a recommended order. The parties will have 21 days to file a written objection if they disagree with the recommended order. Please note that you are required to request the hearing transcript if you file an objection. If a party objects to the recommended order, you will have a hearing before the judge. If neither party objects, the recommended order will become the Order of the Court.
Start Making It Livable for Everyone (SMILE) Program
Parents in all newly filed cases will be required to attend SMILE, a 2-hour program designed as a tool to help parents deal with their children in the context of divorce or separation. SMILE provides information about how parents can better define and attend to their children's emotions and needs. It also gives parents tools to develop closer relationships with their children.
The program promotes parental cooperation by stressing the importance of co-parenting for children's well-being. It provides specific behavioral guidelines so parents can relate to each other more positively.