The Friend of the Court Referee

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.

Bottom Line

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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Change is rarely easy, sometimes complicated and often emotional.   Let a Michigan divorce attorney experienced in family law help you.  We utilize a team approach to focus on solutions by applying Michigan law properly.  We specialize in helping you focus on your goals, protect your property interests, manage your custody and support interest, and keep you happy in life’s most difficult circumstances.

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I have been exclusively practicing divorce and family law in Michigan for over two decades.  The attorneys at Findling Law all share the core value of practicing law to help people navigate change in their lives, without compromising principles.  We specialize in high socio-economic, high-profile and high-conflict cases, while also working with clients of all backgrounds. We recognize that the most important aspect of the practice of law is the application of the law to your specific circumstances.

That is why we provide more free information on divorce and family law than any other Michigan law firm. We want to help you manage your situation. Allow our exceptional legal team to help you navigate the change in your life, without compromising principles.

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By:  Daniel Findling

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