- Friend of the Court
March 26th, 2020
Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the Friend of the Court will be staffed to take your calls between the hours of 8:30 AM and 1:00 PM each day while the Berrien County Trial Court State of Emergency Essential Operations Plan is in effect. If you call after 1:00 PM, please leave a message and someone will return your call within one business day.
As a reminder, you may access your case information by calling the Interactive Voice Response line at 1-877-543-2660 or by going online to micase.state.mi.us.
For specific information about closures at the Berrien County Courthouse, please go to BerrienCounty.org or check the Berrien County Trial Court Facebook page for up to date information regarding our hours of operation.
March 23rd, 2020
The FOC office has had a number of phone calls asking about transportation of minor children for purposes of court ordered parenting time during the covid-19 outbreak. Michigan Governor Whitmer, in her Executive Order 2020-21, specifically refers to this question as an allowable transportation related issue. Specifically, under the category of exceptions to the order, individuals may leave their home or place of residence and travel as necessary “as required by law enforcement or a court order, including the transportation of children pursuant to a custody agreement” (section 7(b)(4)). Berrien County will continue to enforce all current parenting time provisions contained in domestic relations court orders.
March 20th, 2020
Effective March 20, 2020, the Berrien County Trial Court is operating under a State of Emergency Essential Operation Plan. While there is much uncertainty in our world right now, we want to let you know how the Friend of the Court office is available to serve you.
Under guidance from the Michigan Supreme Court, we are providing limited services for essential functions only. These include:
- Arraigning individuals on bench warrants pursuant to MCR 3.221(B)
- Assuring that child support orders are recorded in the Michigan Child Support Enforcement System (MICSES) so that payments can be forwarded to families
- Implementing income withholding notices so ordered support payments can be deducted and paid automatically
- Assisting the Court with emergency motions as requested
Each of our main Divisions - Accounting, Enforcement, Domestic Investigator and Review and Modification, have staff members available to take your calls and handle incoming correspondence. Additionally, staff are available to provide scheduling and appropriate notice of hearings, as required.
An important note—all Friend of the Court hearings previously scheduled through May 4, 2020, have been adjourned. You will receive written notice in the mail of your amended hearing date and time as these matters are rescheduled.
We certainly understand that our limited operations may affect response times. We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience. It is important to us to provide an on-going level of service to the public and also to care for the health and safety of our staff. We are working diligently to balance these two important priorities.
As always, you can find financial information about your case via the Interactive Voice Response line (877) 543-2660 or you may visit micase.state.mi.us.
March 16th, 2020
Michigan Supreme Court News Release:
"FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 16, 2020
Statement from the Michigan Supreme Court on Matters Concerning
With schools closed and courthouses limiting operations to reduce exposure to COVID-19, parents who live apart might be confused about changing family situations and their court orders.
Things to Remember
The Supreme Court wants to remind parents that all court orders for a child’s custody, parenting time and support are still in force. Only a new court order can change that. Parents should continue to follow their court order.
If future government decisions restrict travel or, if a child’s safety is an issue, parents should work together to keep the child’s access to both parents as close to the normal arrangement as possible. Remember that children might also be nervous about current events and need reassurance from parents. If it is necessary to share parental responsibilities in ways different than the court order provides, parents should cooperate with each other to further the child’s best interests. If parents are not able to agree between themselves how to do this, their court order continues to control what they should do.
Child support payment processing is expected to continue. However, if a person changes jobs or a court order changes, there may be a delay in updating automatic payment withholding from a paycheck. If a parent has child support obligations and money is not automatically withheld from his or her pay, the parent should be sure to make the payment through the State Disbursement Unit. Parents can also make payments through PayNearMe at CVS Pharmacy, 7-Eleven, Family Dollar, and Casey’s General Store.
Parents are encouraged to sign up for MiChildSupport to see their child support case online. To sign up, click here."
The Friend of the Court has the following duties:
- To investigate, report and make recommendations to the court on these matters:
- Parenting Time
- Amount of Support
- Denials of Parenting Time
- To enforce all custody orders entered by the court.
- To enforce all parenting time orders entered by the court.
- To enforce all support orders entered by the court.
- To provide mediation as a way of settling disagreements over custody and parenting time of children.