The Friend of the Court Referee
A Friend of the court referee is appointed by the chief Judge to assist in Michigan divorce, custody and domestic relations cases. A Michigan Friend of the Court Referee power is defined in Michigan Compiled Laws Section 552.507.
Michigan law (MCL 552.507) provides that a Friend of the Court Referee may do all of the following:
- Hear all motions in a domestic relations matter (except motions pertaining to an increase or decrease in spouse support);
- Examine witnesses and parties;
- Hold hearings; and
- Make a recommended Order
While a Friend of the Court referee can make a recommended order, only a Judge can make a final order. Therefore, if a Friend of the Court referee makes a recommendation that you do not like, you always have an opportunity to have the court make an independent determination.
The request for an independent determination by a judge is called a request for a “de novo” hearing. The new hearing before the judge is called a “de novo hearing” and takes place upon a request in writing by either party. The written request is typically called an objection to the friend of the court referee recommended order and request for a de novo hearing.
While a Friend of the Court referee job is to assist the court in resolving a Michigan divorce, Michigan custody or Michigan domestic relations case, he/she can only make a recommended order. At the request of either party, the judge will conduct a de novo hearing and make a new decision, based either on the evidence presented at the time of the de novo hearing or based only on the evidence presented at the hearing before the friend of the court referee and any new evidence.
The Friend of the Court referees can only make a recommendation to a Judge on how a case is decided. If either party disagrees with the recommendation of friend of the court you can ask the Court for a new hearing.
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By: Daniel Findling