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Understanding the Government Agencies Involved in Michigan Divorces

Posted on in Divorce

Farmington Hills divorce lawyer, Michigan divorce, Michigan State Disbursement Unit, circuit courts, parenting disputesDivorcing couples with minor children will quickly become familiar with multiple government agencies, including:

  • The Family Division of the circuit court in the county where the divorce is filed;
  • The Friend of the Court (FOC) office in that county; and
  • The Michigan State Disbursement Unit (MiSDU).

These three government units each play an important role in ensuring that Michigan children of unmarried/divorced parents receive the best possible care and financial support. Consider the following simple overview to help you understand the role that these agencies will play during and after your divorce.

The Family Division of the Local Circuit Court

Michigan has 57 circuit courts covering its 83 counties. Circuit courts are typically located in county courthouses. The Family Division of the circuit court was created by state statute in 1996. Family Division judges handle all cases involving divorce, paternity, adoptions, and other matters of family law. This is where you will file for divorce, attend hearings before a judge, and have your final divorce agreement approved.

The Friend of the Court (FOC)

Friend of the Court departments in each county were created by Michigan law in 1998. The FOC is part of the Family Division of the circuit court and is typically co-located with the court.

In contested cases—that is, divorces where the parents have not reached agreement on one more more child-related issues—the judge can direct that the FOC investigate and make recommendations to the judge regarding child custody, support, and parenting time. The FOC also offers mediation services to help resolve parenting disputes.

In addition, once a final divorce settlement is reached, including all orders related to the minor children, the FOC assists in enforcing those orders and in modifying them when necessary (e.g., if a parent plans to move or has a substantial change in income).

The Michigan State Disbursement Unit (MiSDU)

The MiSDU collects and distributes child support payments electronically, ensuring the maintenance of accurate, centralized records and protecting the interests of both parents and children. This system, in 2015, supported over 880,000 children and processed over $1 billion in child support payments, mostly collected via employer paycheck withholding.

Trusted Divorce and Child Support Attorneys in Southeast Michigan

Divorces involving minor children also involve the bureaucracy of multiple units of government. To protect your—and your children’s—best interests, seek the advice of an experienced Farmington Hills divorce and child support lawyer. Call Elkouri Heath, PLC at 248-344-9700 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a skilled divorce lawyer at our Novi, Michigan office.

Sources:

http://courts.mi.gov/self-help/center/general-information/pages/types-of-courts.aspx

http://www.michigan.gov/documents/mdhhs/Child_Support_Fact_Sheet_505037_7.pdf

https://www.oakgov.com/courts/foc/Pages/info_pub/foc_overview.aspx

https://www.oakgov.com/courts/foc/PublishingImages/Pages/info_pub/foc_default/FOC%20Handbook%20-%20Booklet%20upd%205-2015%20-%20revised.pdf

Oakland County Bar Association State Bar of Michigan Collaborative Practice Institute of Michigan WCCDBA Woman Lawyers Association of Michigan
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