1. How do I get an order for custody in Washtenaw County?
A petition requesting the Washtenaw County Court to grant custody of child(ren) must be filed with the Washtenaw County Family Court. If both parents agree and sign an agreement (stipulation and consent agreement), that agreement, if approved by the Court, may be entered as a custody order.
2. How do I change an existing order for custody in Washtenaw County?
A petition to modify a custody order in Washtenaw County must be filed with the Court, or the parents can sign a written agreement changing custody (stipulation and consent agreement), which if approved by the Washtenaw County Circuit Court, will change custody.
3. Do I need to have an attorney to get custody in Washtenaw County?
It is not required that you have an attorney to file a petition for custody. However, there are many complicated issues involved in a Michigan custody case and therefore attorney representation may be desired. The Friend of the Court cannot file a petition for custody in a party's behalf.
4. Is there any way the Washtenaw County Circuit Court can assist us in reaching an agreement on custody?
The Washtenaw County Friend of the Court is required to provide Domestic Relations Mediation. Mediation is a process where a neutral third party assists in voluntarily settling a custody dispute. Both parties must agree to participate in this process.
5. Are there different kinds of custody in Michigan?
Yes, a number of custody arrangements are possible in Michigan. The most common are:
Michigan Joint Custody —Joint custody means an order of the Court in which one or both of the following are provided:
- That the child(ren) live with one parent part of the time and with the other parent part of the time.
- That the parents both share in making decisions on important issues dealing with the children.
Michigan Sole Custody—An order of the Court which states that the child(ren) live with one parent and that parent is responsible for making decisions on important issues dealing with the child(ren).
After a petition for custody has been filed in Michigan, and we cannot reach our own agreement, what does the Washtenaw County Friend of the Court have to do?
The 22nd Circuit Friend of the Court is required to:
- Offer mediation services to the parties.
- Conduct an investigation and file a written report and recommendation to the Court based on the factors listed in the Michigan Child Custody Act.
6. Do I have the right to receive a copy of the Washtenaw County Friend of the Court report and recommendation on custody in Michigan?
Before the Court custody recommendation, the Washtenaw County Friend of the Court must provide to each party or their attorney a copy of the report, recommendation and any supporting documents or a summary of the documents prepared or used by the Friend of the Court in Michigan.
7. What will happen if I have an order for custody in Michigan and the other parent does not return the child to me as stated in the Court order?
There are several options:
- Contact the Friend of the Court and request enforcement of the order.
- Contact a Michigan family law attorney.
- Contact the Prosecuting Attorney and request that a kidnapping charge be started if there is reason to believe that the other parent intends to keep the child.
8. Does the Washtenaw County Friend of the Court have a responsibility to investigate alleged abuse and/or neglect of a child?
Allegations of abuse or neglect should be reported to the Protective Services unit of the Department of Social Services office. The Washtenaw County Friend of the Court has a responsibility to conduct an investigation when a party files a parenting time or custody petition and the matter is referred to the Friend of the Court. Allegations of abuse or neglect in Michigan should be communicated to the Friend of the Court during the investigation/evaluation process.