Family Court Benchbook
Order and Judgment Entry
The Court Rules govern local practice. This outline is not a substitute for the Michigan Court Rules (MCR), but rather, highlights and supplements certain aspects of the MCR, in particular, where the local practice procedures go beyond the requirements of the Court Rule.
Please remember this critically important change: Do not put social security numbers or birthdates of the parties or their children in any order or judgment.
I. Friend of the Court Review of Orders and Judgments.
A. The Friend of the Court (FOC) must approve all orders and judgments in DM, DC, DP and DS cases, and all orders and judgments in DO cases with alimony. The FOC does not approve Qualified Domestic Relations Orders. If there is a Friend of the Court recommendation in the case, bring a copy with you when you have the order approved. You may wish to refer to the FOC order checklist included in this Benchbook.
B. All orders for support must be presented on a Uniform Support Order (USO) form. Judgments and other orders may refer to the USO but are not required to repeat the terms. Please review the USO section included in this Benchbook.
C. The Prosecutor must review and approve all Judgments of Divorce with minor children (DM cases). The Friend of the Court has been given the authority to do this on behalf of the Prosecutor in certain circumstances. Fill out the Questionnaire for Approval of Judgment of Divorce (available at the Friend of the Court) and bring it with you to the Friend of the Court. If appropriate the Friend of the Court attorney will sign the Judgment on behalf of the Prosecutor. If not, you will be required to go to the Prosecuting Attorney's office at 200 North Main for approval.
II. General Orders and 7-Day Orders, MCR 2.602.
A. Consent orders: An order may be presented to the court for entry if it has been approved by counsel and parties, or counsel on behalf of parties.
B. Orders after hearing:
1. A party may prepare a proposed order and present it to the court for entry at the time of the hearing, or as a consent order after the hearing.
2. If, after a hearing, approval of a proposed order cannot be obtained, the order can be noticed for settlement before the court.
3. Alternatively, the order can be presented as a Seven-Day Order. Seven-Day Orders must be submitted to the Court within seven (7) days after the decision, MCR 2.602 (B)(3).
(a) The presenting attorney must file the original and proof of service with the Court Clerk.
(b) Specific objections may be filed within 7 days, together with an alternative proposed order and a notice of hearing. A transcript of the motion hearing may be required by the court.
(c) Court Services has a checklist for entry of orders under the 7-day rule.
III. Ex Parte Orders, MCR 3.207 (also see Section on Emergency Orders).
A. In general, an ex parte order requires an affidavit or verified pleading with specific facts showing that irreparable harm, loss, or damage will result from the delay required to give notice or that notice will precipitate adverse action. The specific requirements of MCR 3.207 may be found at http://coa.courts.mi.gov/rules. A motion to enter the order ex-parte may be required, check with the judge assigned to your case.
B. An extra copy of the order must be submitted to the Court for the Friend of the Court.
C. A true copy must be sent to the other party. Ex-parte orders are effective upon entry but enforceable only upon service.
D. All ex-parte orders for support, custody or visitation must have the specific notice language of MCR 3.207 (B)(5).
E. All ex-parte orders for support must use a Uniform Support Order.
F. All ex-parte orders must state that the order will become a temporary order automatically if the other party does not file written objections or file a motion to modify or rescind the ex parte order together with a request for a hearing.
G. Written objections or a motion to rescind and a request for hearing must be filed within 14 days after the order is served. A hearing must occur within 21 days after objection or motion is filed (35 days maximum total time).
IV. Temporary Orders.
A. Temporary orders require a hearing and a verified motion or petition unless there is consent or they are entered ex-parte.
B. All temporary orders should state whether or not the support provisions of the order may be modified retroactively by subsequent order.
C. The first temporary custody, parenting time or support order, and the final judgment or order must be accompanied by a Judgment Information Form. MCR 3.211(F)(2). The Judgment Information Form is available on line at the following link: http://courts.michigan.gov/scao/courtforms/domesticrelations/focgeneral/foc100.pdf
V. Judgments of Divorce
A. A judgment information form must be filed with the Friend of the Court with any final order in a domestic case involving custody, parenting time, or support. MCR 3.211(F)(2).
B. All judgments of divorce must contain:
1. A provision ordering, reserving, or denying spousal support. If spousal support is ordered, the judgment should include language incorporating a Uniform Spousal Support Order; if no spousal support is ordered, the judgment should state: "no Uniform Spousal Support Order is required."
2. If any support is ordered in the judgment and the parties have opted out of Friend of the Court services, the caption on the judgment must state, "OPT OUT."
3. If child support is ordered and it will be paid through the Friend of the Court, the judgment must include the following statement: "I am requesting services under Title IVD of the Social Security Act."
4. All other provisions required by statute or court rule.
C. All judgments involving minor children must contain:
1. A provision ordering or reserving child support. If child support is ordered, the judgment should include language incorporating a Uniform Child Support Order; it is not necessary to repeat the child support order in the judgment, as the UCSO controls. If child support is reserved, the judgment must state: "no Uniform Child Support Order is required." For more information see USO section included in this Benchbook.
2. The statutory language regarding change of domicile, changing legal residence
D. An original Record of Divorce or Annulment obtained from Court Services must be presented in court with the JOD. A photocopy of the form may not be used.
E. A Praecipe must be filed with the Central Assignment Office at least seven days prior to the hearing for entry of Judgment.
F. A DO Judgment may not be entered until a minimum of 60 days after filing of the complaint. A DM Judgment may not be entered until a minimum of six months after filing of the complaint; however the Court may accelerate the entry of a DM Judgment upon motion, for good cause shown. See MCR 3.210(A)(2).
G. The original Judgment shall contain original signatures.
VI. Final Orders or Judgments with Separate Settlement Agreements
If you wish to file a Judgment or final order in a DM case without attaching the agreement (to keep it out of the public record), you may do so. Unless the case is an "opt-out" bring a copy of the agreement with you to the FOC when presenting the order for signature. Please attach a cover sheet with the case caption. If the case is "opt-out," the FOC will not retain a copy. For more information, see Opt Out section included in this Benchbook.
VII. How to determine if an order or judgment has been signed.
A signed order list is posted on the Internet at the following URL: http://washtenawtrialcourt.org/signed_orders
VIII. FOC recommendations and order entry.
A. If the recommendation is by an Evaluator an order may be entered by consent of the parties or by filing a motion to adopt the recommendation.
B. If the recommendation is by a Referee the parties have 21 days to file objections. MCLA 552.507; MCR 3.215. If no objection is filed the preferred practice is to enter a consent order or file a motion for entry of an order.