Friend of the Court
Emmet County Friend of the Court
200 Division Street, Suite G34
Petoskey MI 49770
Hours of Operation:
8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday
Director: Maurine Watts
Phone (231) 348-1717
Fax (231) 348-0611
The office is closed on the following holidays:
New Year’s Day, Good Friday afternoon, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.
The Friend of the Court is the collection, enforcement, and investigative arm of the Circuit Court for domestic relations cases. To obtain a domestic relations order, the issue must be brought before the Court through formal legal action. This is accomplished through private attorneys, by action of one of the parties, or sometimes through the prosecuting attorney. The Friend of the Court does not become involved until an action has been filed with the Court.
|Friend of the Court||Maurine Watts|
|Deputy Friend of the Court||Mary Ellen Emery|
|Administrative Assistant||Sarah Weaver|
|Case Investigator||Bill Durkalec|
|Case Investigator||Sheri Fels|
|Case Investigator||Bob South|
|Financial Officer||Karen Bishop|
|Financial Officer||Kim Larson|
Action for enforcement by the Friend of the Court may begin with a complaint from either party or automatically through the Friend of the Court. Child support enforcement actions are initiated automatically by the Michigan Child Support Enforcement System(MiCSES). This begins with a letter or notice that an arrearage has been identified and this outstanding balance requires action. Failure to respond to this request brings further court action.
The enforcement of parenting time is only through written complaint of those involved. This issue can only be addressed to the extent that it is set up through the court order. Arrangements outside of this order, such as written or verbal agreements between the parties are not enforceable through the Friend of the Court. Additionally, the office cannot take action on parent/child issues such as haircuts, curfews, etc.
Caseworkers present matters scheduled for enforcement before a Judge or Referee at an enforcement or “show cause” hearing. The Friend of the Court does not directly represent either party in such a hearing. The caseworker may meet with the parties prior to the hearing to gather information and/or to resolve the non-compliance. The caseworker presents information from the Friend of the Court records and may make a recommendation at the hearing. The Judge or Referee will make the actual decision as to the disposition of the case.
If a party fails to appear for the hearing, a bench warrant will be issued.
The Emmet County Friend of the Court offers informal mediation to assist clients in resolving disputes regarding custody, parenting time, and change of domicile issues. Mediation is a voluntary process that allows the parties an opportunity to voice their concerns and offer solutions in a neutral setting. All mediators have been trained through the Michigan Judicial Institute. This service is offered to our clients free of charge. Your case investigator can assist you in scheduling a mediation session.