Friend of the Court

UPDATED MESSAGE FROM FRIEND OF THE COURT DURING SHUTDOWN OF THE COUNTY BUILDING
      During the mandated shutdown, the Emmet County Friend of the Court office is closed. However, calls are still being taken on the FOC’s direct line at (231) 348-1717, where callers can leave a message. In addition, the FOC staff is available from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Mondays and Thursdays to answer phone calls. Credit card payments for child support are being accepted over the phone during those times or you can continue to pay support from the website at any time.
      If you prefer, you can also email us at FOC@emmetcounty.org. The FOC staff will be responding to voice mail messages and emails on Mondays and Thursdays, or as soon as possible depending on the volume of messages.
      In regards to custody and parenting time during this COVID-19 outbreak, please follow your court order as if school were in session. Michigan Courts has provided a great resource answering the most frequently asked questions about parenting time. The publication, ‘FAQs about Custody and Parenting Time During the COVID-19 Outbreak,’ is available here.
      Children remain our first priority at FOC, and families will need child support now, more than ever. Support will continue to be charged, collected and disbursed.
      During this period, the Friend of the Court recommends utilizing one of the below methods of payment.
      1) Directly to MiSDU at www.misdu.com. To use this method, you must have your case/docket number (upper right hand corner of your order). There is a fee for using a debit/credit card. The system will automatically disburse your payment to your case. If you have more than one case, include each case number. The system will automatically pro-rate the payment to your cases.
      2) Credit and debit card payments can be made online through the Emmet County website. If you have more than one case, please make sure you clearly identify which case the money is to be applied. There is a 2.4% fee for this method of payment.
      3) Cash payments can be made at CVS, Family Dollar or 7-11 stores through a program called PayNearMe. Use this phrase with the clerk if you are making a cash payment.
      4) You can check your account at www.michigan.gov/MiChildSupport
      Direct payments to the recipients of support will be allowed during the shutdown only. A statement for credit of the amount paid must be written legibly, dated, signed by both parties, and mailed to Friend of the Court as soon as possible. After verification by the staff, your account will be credited appropriately.
      All referee hearings have been canceled until at least April 30, 2020. You will receive a notice of any hearing scheduled by the Friend of the Court.
      Please continue to check our web site for any updates.
      We appreciate your patience and cooperation during this most challenging time.


LOCATION
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.

STAFF
Friend of the Court Maurine Watts
Deputy Friend of the Court Mary Ellen Emery
Administrative Assistant Sarah Purvis
Case Investigator Bill Durkalec
Case Investigator Sheri Fels
Case Investigator Bob South
Financial Officer Karen Bishop
Financial Officer Kim Larson

Enforcement

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.

Mediation

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.

Friend of Court Celebrates 100 Years of Service

Emmet County, Michigan
200 Division Street, Petoskey MI 49770
(231) 348-1702 | Contact Us