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What is the Friend of the Court?

Fathers and mothers in St. Clair Shores, Michigan, love their children, and want to spend as much time with them as possible. Doing so is the most fundamental right of parenthood, and is critical for the healthy emotional development of their daughters and sons through infancy, childhood and adolescence.

However, when a couple separates, with the father and mother subsequently living in different homes, child custody determinations have to be made. A key aspect of those determinations is an evaluation made by the Friend of the Court (FOTC).

What is the Friend of the Court?

The Friend of the Court is a public agency that acts in an advisory role to family court judges who make child custody decisions.

What does it do?

Its main task is to put together a custody evaluation which will then be delivered to the judge.

Does the judge have to decide in accordance with the Friend of the Court's conclusions?

No. The judge can decide however they wish. The FOTC evaluation is a recommendation only.

How does the FOTC make their recommendation?

Usually, they meet with both of the parents of the children. This can be done in one meeting with the parents being together, but it is usually done with each parent separately, especially if there is conflict between them.

What is the point of those meetings?

The FOTC is supposed to set asides stereotypes and biases and objectively establish what the parenting dynamics have been to that point and what they would be going forward. The parents can be expected to be asked questions about the time that they spend with their children, and the ways in which they parent. They may also be asked about how the other parent is with the children. The questions that the FOTC asks are supposed to be based on the various factors that affect child custody decisions.

Source: Michigan Supreme Court, "Michigan Custody Guideline," accessed Feb. 23, 2018

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