FRIEND OF THE COURT
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 in court.
FRIEND OF THE COURT STAFF
- AMANDA GUARISCO
Friend of the Court Director
Amanda J. Guarisco was appointed by the Hon. Charles W. Johnson, former judge of the 57th Circuit Court, as Emmet County’s new Friend of the Court, filling a vacancy created with the retirement of longtime FOC director Maurine Watts. Guarisco, an Emmet County native, attended Spring Arbor University, graduating in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in social work and later attained a master’s degree in administration from Central Michigan University in 2018. She officially began her new position on September 8, 2020.
- MARY ELLEN EMERY
Deputy Friend of the Court
- MARY ELLEN EMERY
FRIEND OF THE COURT NEWS
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.
ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION SERVICES
The Emmet County Friend of the Court offers Alternative Dispute Resolution Services (ADR) to assist clients in resolving disputes regarding custody, parenting time, and change of domicile issues. ADR is a voluntary process that allows parties the opportunity to voice concerns and offer resolutions in a neutral setting. All ADR providers have been met SCAO training requirements. This service is offered to qualified clients free of charge. Your case investigator can assist you in scheduling an ADR meeting. If a case does not qualify for ADR Services, third party mediation services are also available.