Friend of the Court
Troubleshooting is an immediate alternative dispute resolution process where the parents attend a joint session with a FOC evaluator/mediator. At the discretion of the Court there may be a fee for your custody and/or parenting time troubleshoot. The Order referring your case to the Friend of the Court office will address the fee amount, how the amount is to be proportioned between the parents and whether or not the fee is waived or reserved. If the fee has been reserved the evaluator may address the fee in their recommendation. The total fee needs to be paid at the Friend of the Court Office, cash or money order ONLY, prior to the troubleshooting appointment. If the fee is not paid prior to your scheduled appointment your troubleshoot will be TERMINATED. If one parent pays and the other parent fails to pay the fee your troubleshoot will be TERMINATED. Your troubleshoot WILL NOT BE HELD if the entire fee is not paid in full. Troubleshooting was designed to be an expedited process allowing the parents more time to fully discuss, explore and explain the issues than they may have received in a hearing. The goal of this process is to gather information, and also to assist the parents in resolving their dispute regarding the children. At a session at the FOC office, often scheduled the week following the motion hearing, a FOC evaluator/mediator will gather applicable information to determine the best interest of the children under Michigan's Child Custody Act Factors.
If the parents reach an agreement, then a stipulation and Order is prepared to capture that agreement. This agreement becomes the order of the court. However, if the parents cannot reach agreement, then the FOC evaluator/mediator will submit a written report and recommendation along with a proposed order that reflects the recommendation. These documents are expected to be generated within a few weeks and are sent to the court, the parents and their attorneys. Upon receipt, either parent may file an objection with the court within 21 days. If no objection is filed, and the court agrees with the recommendation, then the proposed order is entered and becomes enforceable by the FOC.
Should my attorney attend?
Usually, attorneys do not attend unless the judge specifically grants permission. There are circumstances under which the court will grant permission for attorneys to attend such as a history of domestic violence, or violent behaviors by one or both of the parents. If permission is granted, then the expectation is that both attorneys will attend when both parents are represented.
Will I get notice of the meeting from the FOC?
No, you will be informed by the judge at the motion hearing, or through your attorney, of the date and time of the meeting. Often, you will also be advised of who you are scheduled to meet with at the FOC.
Is there a way to get Troubleshooting scheduled on my case without filing a motion?
Whether your case is appropriate for Troubleshooting is a judicial decision so the issues must be brought before the court. Your attorney can request troubleshooting at a motion hearing.
Is there only one meeting for Troubleshooting?
Sometimes the FOC evaluator/mediator will need additional information and may schedule a meeting with you individually or schedule a time to interview your children. The initial meeting is usually for two hours, but if the issues are complex and schedules allow, this first meeting may take longer.