Friend of the Court - Tuscola County

Friend of the Court

COVID-19 UPDATE – FRIDAY, AUGUST 14, 2020:

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Tuscola County Courthouse and Friend of the Court (FOC) office is closed to the public. However, FOC will continue to offer services during this time. You may reach us as follows:

  • • email: foc@tuscolacounty.org
  • • In writing: 440 N. State Street, Caro MI 48723
  • • Exterior walkup window: 440 N. State Street, Caro MI 48723
  • • By phone: 989-673-4848

Back to School FAQ:

Many parents are being asked by their child’s school to make a decision as to whether their child will be attending school this fall in-person, remotely, or opting for a hybrid approach. This can be a difficult choice for some parents. It becomes even more complicated when parents are not able to agree on which option to choose. In an effort to help families make this decision, the Tuscola Friend of the Court is providing the following FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions):

Question: My school is asking me if my child will return to school in-person this fall. Do I need to discuss this with the other parent or can I make the decision on my own?

Answer: It depends on what your court order says. If your court order says that you have sole legal custody, you can make the decision on your own. If your court order says that you have joint legal custody, you will need to discuss this with the other parent and make the decision together. If you don’t know whether you have joint legal or sole legal custody, you may contact the Friend of the Court at 989-672-3213 to help you determine what your court order says.

Question: Does the Friend of the Court offer any guidance to help parents make the decision whether a child should return to school in-person or attend remotely?

Answer: Yes. The Friend of the Court suggests that parents consider their own unique circumstances and those of the other parent. For instance, if either household has an immunocompromised person residing in the home, parents may understandably have concerns about sending their child to school. As such, it might be prudent to attend school remotely. Similarly, if a possible COVID exposure could cause a parent to miss work and suffer significant financial hardship, this might also be a consideration. Each family is different so the Friend of the Court encourages parents to work together to make the best decision for their child while considering each family’s individual circumstances.

Question: When parents cannot reach an agreement as to whether a child should return to school in-person, does the Friend of the Court provide services to help parents decide?

Answer: Yes. Parents are welcome to contact the Friend of the Court to ask for help in making this decision when they cannot resolve this issue on their own. The Friend of the Court is able to set up a joint meeting between a Friend of the Court facilitator and the parents to discuss their concerns. To use this process, both parents must be agreeable to participating. These meetings are referred to as Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and will be held remotely. If parents are interested in using the ADR process, they may contact the Friend of the Court at 989-672-3212 for more information.

Question: What happens if our court order says that we have joint legal custody but we cannot reach an agreement on which option to choose?

Answer: If you and the other parent cannot agree on whether your child should return to in-person school, either party may file a motion to ask the court to make the decision for you. The court will base its decision on the child’s best interests. Given that the school year is fast approaching and the court’s docket gets booked quickly, the Friend of the Court highly suggests that parties first try to resolve the issue between themselves or seek ADR.

Question: The other parent has sole legal custody, but I don’t like the decision they are making. Can I still ask the court for help?

Answer: Yes. Under certain circumstances the court might change legal custody or otherwise override the other parent’s decision. Depending on the situation, this could be a difficult process so you may want to contact an attorney for assistance, visit www.MichiganLegalHelp.org or see if ADR is an option.


Payments


If you would like to make a support payment, please visit the Michigan State Disbursement Unit (MiSDU) at www.misdu.com.

You can access your case information, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by signing up with MiChildSupport at www.michigan.gov/micase

If an emergency arises and one parent needs to directly give the other parent cash for child support, please ask the receiving parent to write a receipt that is both signed and dated. Receipts can be forwarded to the FOC so we can process an adjustment to the account balance.


Child Support Reviews

If you lost your job and your income has significantly changed, please call FOC at 989-672-3217 or email us at foc@tuscolacounty.org to start a child support review. Alternatively, if parents have reached an agreement regarding child support, please contact FOC for assistance in modifying your court order.


Hearings

Except for emergency hearings, all FOC hearings scheduled through May 2020, are in the process of being adjourned to a later date. Look for a notice of adjournment in the mail that will provide information about your new hearing date. For access to a virtual hearing, please contact the court administrator at 989-672-3807.


FOC Approval of Court Orders as to Form

Until the court resumes normal operations, FOC is waiving the requirement that orders are “approved as to form” prior to filing.

Given the rapidly evolving situation, please check the following resources to determine what services are available:

Thank you for your cooperation and understanding.

Sandy Erskine,
Friend of the Court Director

Contact Us

There are several ways to contact the Friend of the Court:

In Person/Mail:

Friend of the Court is located on the 1st floor of the Tuscola County Courthouse:

440 North State Street
Caro, Michigan 48723
Office Hours: Monday - Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

By Phone/Fax:

  • Main Line: 989-673-4848
  • Fax Line: 989-673-4898
  • 24 Hr Interactive Voice Response (IVR): 877-543-2660

Online

Email: foc@tuscolacounty.org

Referee Division:

The Referee Division hears motions for changes to custody, parenting time, domicile and child support. It is located in the basement of the Tuscola County Court House

  • 989-673-4848 ext 3200

Enforcement Division

Enforcement Specialists are assigned to cases based on the father's last name. Contact your Enforcement Specialist if you have questions regarding show cause hearings, bench warrants, income withholding notices, employer related questions, locating individuals whose address is unknown or any other question related to enforcement.

  • Amy (father's last name A-G) 989-672-3732
  • Brad (father's last name H-O) 989-672-3226
  • Cindy (father's last name P-Z) 989-672-3210

Interstate/Medical Specialist:

If you have an interstate case and need information regarding the status of your case or have questions regarding medical enforcement contact the Interstate/MedicalSpecialist at the phone number listed below.

  • Jamie - 989-673-4848 ext 3215

Parenting Time/Custody:

If you have questions pertaining to a recommendation for child custody and/or parenting time or you need information regarding enforcement of your custody/parenting time order, contact the Family Coordinator at the phone number below.

  • Danielle - 989-673-4848 ext 3213

SMILE Program/Joint Meeting Coordinator:

For questions regarding the SMILE Program or to schedule a "Joint Meeting" contact our Program Coordinator at the phone number below.

  • Karen - 989-673-4848 ext 3212

Support Review and Modifications:

The Support Analyst is responsible for initiating child support reviews and making recommendations for modifications of new and existing child support orders.

  • Cindy - 989-673-4848 ext 3206

Accounting:

Contact the Accounting Department if you have accounting, foster care, or general questions related to payments made and credits received.

  • Colleen - 989-673-4848 ext 3202
Choose an option from the Information menu.
Choose an option from the Information menu.

How To Pay Your Child Support

Pay By Mail:

  • Personal checks, certified checks & money orders can be mailed to the Michigan State Disbursement Unit (MISDU) at: MiSDU, P.O. Box 30351, Lansing, Michigan 48909.
  • Please include your name, docket number or social security number, and the Tuscola County Code which is #079.

Pay Online With A Credit Card:

  • Payments can be made online through the MiSDU at www.misdu.com
  • MiSDU accepts these credit cards: American Express, Discover, Mastercard and Visa.
  • MiSDU accepts debit cards with Mastercard and Visa logos.
  • You will be charged a fee for using this service.

Pay Using PayNearMe:

  • You can pay your child support with cash at a 7-Eleven, Family Dollar Store or a CVS Pharmacy using a service called PayNearMe.
  • To sign up visit www.misdu.com or call the Friend of the Court at 989-673-4848.
  • Once you sign up, you will receive a barcode that you can use to make cash payments on your case at these stores.
  • There is a $1.99 fee for this service subject to change.

Pay Using Moneygram:

  • You can pay your child support nationwide at any Walmart or CVS Pharmacy using MoneyGram.
  • All you need is your ten-digit Docket Number (e.g. 2016123456).
  • You must use the following receive code: 14689
  • Complete your transaction at the cash counter or payment kiosk and keep your receipt.
  • The payment can take 3-5 business days to post to your account.
  • You will be charged a $3.99 fee to use this service subject to change.

Income Withholding:

  • If you are currently employed, FOC can usually issue an income withholding order to your employer so payments come directly out of your paycheck.
  • Your court order requires you to provide new employer information to FOC so an income withholding order can be sent to your employer.
  • If an income withholding order is issued to your employer and you feel that you cannot afford the withholding amount, contact the FOC for assistance.

Support Enforcement

Enforcement

A Friend of the Court Enforcement Specialist is available to assist you when you have questions regarding enforcement of your child support order. Although the Friend of the Court cannot act as your attorney, we will try to assist you by answering questions and taking appropriate enforcement actions.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • Friend of the Court enforces court orders and does not enforce verbal agreements.
  • Friend of the Court must enforce court orders as they are written. If you believe that your order needs to be modified, please see our web pages entitled "Modify Child Support" and "Custody/Parenting Time" for more information.

Bench Warrants

Bench warrants are issued when a party fails to appear for a scheduled hearing. The purpose of a bench warrant is to bring a party before the court. If you have an outstanding warrant, Friend of the Court will attempt to work with you to resolve this matter before you are arrested. If either party has questions regarding bench warrants, please contact the Bench Warrant Specialist - 989-673-4848 ext.3226 to discuss your options.

Medical Support

Insurance Coverage

All domestic relations orders are required by law to contain a provision for health insurance for the parties' minor child(ren). This provision often states that parents must obtain insurance through their employer if insurance is available at a "reasonable cost". When a party is ordered to provide health insurance, Friend of the Court will send a National Medical Support Notice (NMSN) to the party's employer. However, depending on the party's income and the cost of insurance, the party may or may not be required to carry insurance. If you believe that your employer's insurance is too expensive and therefore not reasonable, you should contact the Friend of the Court. A Friend of the Court caseworker will be able to help you calculate what is a reasonable cost for health insurance coverage based on your income.

Uninsured Medical Expenses

Often times, parties incur medical expenses that are not covered by insurance. You may request the assistance of a caseworker at the Friend of the Court to get reimbursement for your child's uninsured health care expenses. If your court order was entered after October 1, 2004, your order will likely include an "Ordinary Medical Expense" provision (OME). The custodial parent/payee will typically have to show proof that the annual OME amount has been spent before being allowed to request additional medical contributions from the non-custodial parent/payor. Once the yearly OME amount has been exceeded, custodial parent/payee may then request reimbursement using the medical demand form according to the percentages set forth in your court order. (See the "Forms" page).

Medical Enforcement Worker

989-673-4848 ext. 3215

Modifying A Child Support Order

There are three ways to have a child support order reviewed for possible modification:

  1. File a Motion to Change Order; or
  2. Submit a Request for Support Review ; or
  3. At the initiative of the Friend of the Court.

The Friend of the Court is required to review the issue of support when any of the following circumstances exist:

  • If a child is being supported in whole (or part) by public assistance. Public assistance includes cash, food and/or medical assistance received from the State of Michigan.
  • A substantial change in circumstances has occurred, and this change may affect the child support amount.
  • At the direction of the Court.
  • Upon written request from either party. The Friend of the Court is not required to investigate more than 1 request received from a party every 3 years.

If you have questions regarding a support review, you may contact the Friend of the Court's Support Analyst at 989-673-4848 ext. 3217.

Custody/Parenting Time

Enforcement Of Parenting Time Orders

Friend of the Court assists parties in enforcing parenting time orders only through written request. If you have a court order for parenting time and the other party is not complying with the court's order, you may file a Parenting Time Complaint. Please remember that Friend of the Court can only enforce written court orders. Friend of the Court cannot enforce private agreements made by the parties.

Modification Of Custody/Parenting Time Orders

Often times, modifying custody/parenting time orders can be a complicated issue because certain proofs must be made to the court before the court will modify a custody/parenting time order. You may wish to discuss this issue with an attorney to determine how best to proceed. Also, you may wish to review our "Useful Links" page for additional legal resources.

If parties have reached an agreement regarding a modification to their custody/parenting time order, they may enter into a consent agreement.

If parties have attempted to privately resolve their issues but are unable to do so, Friend of the Court may be able to help. Parties may contact Friend of the Court to set up a "joint meeting" with our parenting time coordinator. At this meeting, parties will be given an opportunity to discuss their respective issues in an attempt to reach an agreement. Friend of the Court will only schedule a joint meeting if BOTH parties are willing to attending.

If you have general questions about your custody/parenting time order, or you would like to schedule a joint meeting, please contact Friend of the Court's Parenting Time Coordinator at 989-673-4898 ext. 3212.

Parenting Time Guidelines

For a copy of the Tuscola County Friend of the Court Parenting Time Guidelines please click here.

Domestic Relations Referee

The Domestic Relations Referee assists the Family Division judge by holding hearings and issuing recommendations regarding child support, custody, parenting time and requests for changes of domicile.

The Tuscola County Domestic Relations Referee Division is located at:

440 N. State Street
Caro, Michigan 48723

(located on the lower level of the Tuscola County Courthouse)

Phone Number: 989-673-4848 ext. 3200

Tuscola County