When a divorce involves children, the parents typically know issues such as child custody and child support are going to be a part of the proceedings. However, they often do not know what those proceedings entail, which makes it more difficult once they begin. One factor involved in these proceedings is the Friend of the Court (FOC). The FOC plays an important role in litigated divorce cases that involve children. So, what is the FOC, and how will he or she have an impact on your divorce case in St. Clair Shores?
What is the Friend of the Court?
While family law judges preside over divorce proceedings in Michigan, he or she cannot become directly involved in the case. That is, outside of the courtroom, the judge should not speak to either party or investigate any arguments heard in court. However, family law judges still need an inside look at how the family operates, the relationship between the child and each parent, and the ability of each parent to financially provide for the child.
This is where the FOC comes in. The FOC will investigate the case to determine which parent should receive child custody, who should pay child support, and how visitation should work once the divorce is finalized. Prior to conducting an investigation, the FOC will often meet with both parents and try to come to an agreeable arrangement.
After the FOC has met with the parents and performed an investigation, he or she will then make a recommendation to the judge. Judges will always consider the recommendation of the FOC when making their final decision, but they are not required to follow it.
FOCs and Enforcement
In addition to becoming familiar with a case and making recommendations to the judge, the FOC will also enforce child support and child custody orders. If one parent accuses the other of violating any terms of the divorce, the FOC will investigate the matter. If the FOC determines that there has been a violation, he or she will then use enforcement methods.
When the complaint pertains to child custody or visitation, there are many enforcement measures an FOC may take. The FOC may order makeup parenting time to a parent who was denied it, file a motion to modify parenting time, or start contempt proceedings against the violating parent.
When one parent has complained that the other parent has not paid proper child support, the FOC will also take measures to enforce the original order. He or she may withhold income, intercept tax refunds, suspend or revoke driving privileges, or begin contempt proceedings.
In divorces that involve children, the FOC plays an important role and can have a tremendous impact on a case. Parents should always cooperate fully with the FOC in order to have the best chance of a positive outcome.
Call a Michigan Child Custody Lawyer Today
If you are getting a divorce, there are many aspects of the proceedings you are likely not aware of, with the FOC being just one. At Iafrate & Salassa, P.C., our St. Clair Shores child custody lawyers will always explain how your case will proceed, and every aspect involved in it. We will advise on what you should and should not do to give you the best chance of success in court. Call us today or contact us online for a free consultation so we can get started on your case.