Custody, Parenting Time & Change of Domicile Evaluations
Under the Child Custody Act of 1970, “Best Interest Factors” (MCL 722.23) were established to be considered in the matter of Custody, Parenting Time, or Change of Domicile decisions. When these decisions are in dispute between the parties, the Court may Order an investigation or the parties themselves may petition the Court concerning custody, parenting time, or the change of domicile of the children.
Custody, Parenting Time, and Change of Domicile evaluations are generally referred to the Friend of the Court, which would complete an assessment and make recommendations to the Court regarding these disputed matters. Friend of the Court evaluations include interviewing each parent individually and any minor child of approximately four years or older, privately. The Friend of the Court evaluator may ask the parents to obtain school, medical, police, protective service, or mental health records to be considered in their investigation or have the parents sign the necessary release of information forms to obtain records or to consult with others who may have objective and relevant information. The parents are usually asked to complete a questionnaire prior to the interview with the Friend of the Court evaluator, which will be discussed during their individual appointments. It is crucial to the evaluation process that the completed questionnaire be received by the assigned evaluator prior to the date of the personal interview. The evaluator will consider pertinent information regarding 12 “Best Interest Factors” and make recommendations to the Court. The parents’ attorneys and the presiding Judge are provided a copy of the report and recommendation, and at that time the role of the evaluator is generally complete.
The Circuit Court Family Division maintains continuous jurisdiction over minor children until all have reached the age of 18. During this period, the Friend of the Court is required by Court Rule and Statute to exercise general supervision over the children regarding custody and parenting time matters.
If you have been referred to the Friend of the Court for an investigation of Custody, Parenting Time, or Change of Domicile, but reach an agreement, reconcile, or are otherwise no longer in need of an investigation, it is imperative that you advise this office of your situation.