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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 76975 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: In the Best Interests of the Child - A Study on the Friend of the Court
Author(s): P Leuzzi
Corporate Author: Michigan Women's Cmssn
United States of America
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 73
Sponsoring Agency: Michigan Women's Cmssn
Lansing, MI 48933
National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America
Document: PDF
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Based on extensive research, public hearings, and surveys conducted by the Michigan Women's Commission, this report assesses the Friend of the Court (FOC) system which handles all divorce, paternity, and support cases involving minor children and recommends several reforms.
Abstract: Under a 1919 statute, each Circuit Court recommends a person to act as its FOC and then maintains an office whose staff is supervised by the court. Currently, Michigan has 69 FOC offices throughout the State. An overview of the FOC system details its responsiblities, organization, procedures for collecting and disbursing child support payments, and processes for enforcing child support in cases of nonpayment. The present arrangement of financing the FOC's through the county general funds is criticized, and the study suggests that the State assume financial control over the FOC. Comments from clients, State officials, and FOC staff emphasize the need for a state administrative office to establish uniform standards regarding staff qualifications and procedures. The study also examines the appointment process and services provided by the FOC, including mediation between separating parents, counseling, and background investigations. Attitudes of the FOC staff and caseloads are assessed by questionnaires completed by FOC staff and interviews with clients. Other FOC activities evaluated are the process of custody determination, visitation rights, and child support. Because of spiralling increases in the cost of living and changing social roles of mothers and fathers, the report concludes that the 1919 legislation should be substantially revised. Recommended changes in the FOC are outlined which shift responsibility from the county to the State and address the quality and types of services which should be offered and equitable processes of enforcing court orders. A diagram of the FOC system is provided.
Index Term(s): Child custody; Court reform; Domestic relations; Family courts; Family support; Marital problems; Michigan
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