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Opting out of Friend of the Court Services

Pursuant to MCLA552.505a the parties may agree to "opt out" of all Friend of the Court Services.  This means there will be no Friend of the Court case maintained and the Friend of the Court office will not enforce any provisions of the orders.  When parties opt out, they assume full responsibility for the administration and enforcement of the court's orders.

I.          Opting out at the beginning of the case.

The statute provides that at the beginning of the case the parties may file a motion to opt out, which will be granted unless the court finds one or more of the following:

(a) A party to the domestic relations matter is eligible for title IV-D services because of the party's current or past receipt of public assistance.

(b) A party to the domestic relations matter applies for title IV-D services.

(c) A party to the domestic relations matter requests that the office of the friend of the court open and maintain a friend of the court case for the domestic relations matter, even though the party may not be eligible for title IV-D services because the domestic relations matter involves, by way of example and not limitation, only spousal support, child custody, parenting time, or child custody and parenting time.

(d) There exists in the domestic relations matter evidence of domestic violence or uneven bargaining positions and evidence that a party to the domestic relations matter has chosen not to apply for title IV-D services against the best interest of either the party or the party's child.

(e) The parties have not filed with the court a document, signed by each party, which includes a list of the friend of the court services and an acknowledgment that the parties are choosing to do without those services.

 

II.                Opting out of an existing Friend of the Court case.

An existing Friend of the Court case may be closed by filing a motion or a consent order, which will be granted unless the court finds one of the following:

(a) A party to the friend of the court case objects.

(b) A party to the friend of the court case is eligible for title IV-D services because the party is receiving public assistance.

(c) A party to the friend of the court case is eligible for title IV-D services because the party received public assistance and an arrearage is owed to the governmental entity that provided the public assistance.

(d) The friend of the court case record shows that, within the previous 12 months, a child support arrearage or custody or parenting time order violation has occurred in the case.

(e) Within the previous 12 months, a party to the friend of the court case has reopened a friend of the court case.

(f) There exists in the friend of the court case evidence of domestic violence or uneven bargaining positions and evidence that a party to the friend of the court case has chosen to close the case against the best interest of either the party or the party's child.

(g) The parties have not filed with the court a document, signed by each party, that includes a list of the friend of the court services and an acknowledgment that the parties are choosing to do without those services.

III.              Opting in to Friend of the Court Services.

The parties may "opt in" to friend of the Court services in the future by filing a request for services with the Friend of the Court office.  The court will then sign an order incorporating all the required statutory language for a support order.

IV.              Miscellaneous

(a)  In Washtenaw County the Friend of the Court must review all Opt Out Orders.

(b)        The parties can continue to make support payments through the Michigan State Disbursement Unit if they choose to do so.  If they do not the Friend of the Court will not take any enforcement action on obligations that accrue during the opt out period.

The State Court Administrators Office provides forms for opt out and opt in. 

FOC 101, the Advice of Rights to be signed by the parties is available at:  http://courts.michigan.gov/scao/courtforms/domesticrelations/focgeneral/foc101.pdf

FOC 102, the Opt Out Order is available at:  http://courts.michigan.gov/scao/courtforms/domesticrelations/focgeneral/foc102.pdf.

FOC 104, the Opt In Request, is available at: http://courts.michigan.gov/scao/courtforms/domesticrelations/focgeneral/foc104.pdf.