Friend of the Court
Parenting Time Enforcement
The Parenting Time Unit has created a number of brochures that cover many of the topics regarding parenting time that are of interest to parents. Links to those brochures can be found here:
When changes are needed in your parenting time order.
The enforcement of parenting time is only through the written complaint of those involved. This issue can only be followed to the extent that it is set up through the original order. Arrangements outside of this order, such as written or verbal agreements cannot be enforced by the FOC. Additionally, the office cannot initiate enforcement action on parent/child issues such as haircuts, curfew, etc. Those issues, along with joint-legal custody provisions, must be resolved by both parents on their own. If no mutual resolution is reached, these issues must be petitioned directly to the Circuit Court.
FOC and Child Protective Services
Often, parents can get confused when the actions or recommendations of Children's Protective Services (CPS) conflict with the court ordered parenting time that the FOC is enforcing. Both CPS and FOC deal with children, but the agencies have very different roles and responsibilities.
CPS is the agency responsible for investigating the neglect and abuse of children and taking appropriate action to protect any child they find at risk.
FOC is a neutral third-party of the court, whose role is to assist the court with the enforcement of court orders pertaining to custody, child support, parenting time, and health care. FOC also assists the court in resolving disputes between the parents.
Here are some common questions parents have regarding CPS and FOC:
If I make a complaint to CPS and they decide to investigate my complaint, will FOC allow me to deny parenting time?
No. When CPS becomes involved, and in some cases when they feel it would be best for the children involved, they may speak with the parents and request that they forego parenting time while they are investigating the complaint. Parents may, or may not, adhere to the CPS request to fore go parenting time. If CPS is aware that the FOC has a related case, CPS will forward notice to our office that they are investigating abuse or neglect. However, when there is a court order for parenting time, FOC staff, regardless of the circumstances, cannot give permission to disobey a court order. Parents will be responsible for their own actions.
If I cooperate with CPS and agree to forgo my parenting time, will FOC help me to obtain make-up parenting time?
No. If you cooperate with CPS and once their investigation is completed you still believe you should have make-up parenting time, you will have to file a motion with the court and request make-up parenting time in your petition. To assist you, In Pro Per Miscellaneous Motion forms are available online, at the FOC office, and at the Legal Assistance Center located on the 5th floor of the Kent County Courthouse.
If CPS finds that abuse or neglect has occurred, will FOC file a motion to change custody and/or parenting time?
No, FOC will not take that action. If abuse or neglect has been found to have occurred, it is then the responsibility of the parents, or his/her attorney, to file a motion for a change in custody or parenting time. Parents may use an In Pro Per Motion to Change Parenting Time to get their motion before the court. These forms are available online, at the FOC office, or at the Legal Assistance Center located on the 5th floor of the Kent County Courthouse. The FOC will conduct a custody and/or parenting time investigation when the court orders such an investigation.
Where to Look for Additional Help with Co-Parenting
Friend of the Court does not offer counseling services. However, there are local professional counselors and support groups for divorced and single parents facing similar problems. These groups can offer emotional support and practical advice for you and your family. Many of these services can be found in the Family Resource Guide.