Frequently Asked Questions


Custody/Parenting Time

Child Support




I disagree with the Referee’s recommended order, how do I file an objection?

  • The parties have the right to request a judicial (de novo) hearing if they appeared at the hearing. A judicial hearing may be obtained by filing a written objection and notice of hearing with the Circuit Court Clerk within 21 days after the recommended order is mailed to attorneys for the parties or the parties if they are not represented by counsel. MCR 3.215 (E)  
  • Prior to filing an objection, the date and time for the judicial hearing must be obtained by calling the Judicial Secretary.
  • A form is available from the Friend of the Court to file an objection and notice the objection for hearing.          

Instructions- Objection to Referee’s Recommended Order  

Objection to Referee’s Recommended Order

How do I object to a child support recommendation?

  • The parties have the right to request a hearing regarding the child support recommendation received. A Referee hearing may be obtained by filing with the friend of the court a written objection within 21 days after the child support recommendation is mailed to the attorneys for the parties or the parties, if they are not represented by counsel.
  • A form was provided with the child support recommendation.

Objection to Child Support Recommendation

What does “ex parte” mean? How do I object to an ex parte order?

  • The Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute defines ex parte in civil procedure as “motions for orders that can be granted without waiting for a response from the other side.” ( A hearing was not held.
  • The parties have the right to file a written objection to an ex parte order with the Circuit Court Clerk. The objection must be filed within 14 days after you are served with the ex parte order.
  • A form is available at the friend of the court office.

Custody and Parenting Time

What happens if I don’t get my parenting time?

  • File a written complaint with the friend of the court. Your complaint should state facts explaining how the other parent is not following the order, including the date(s) of the alleged violation(s).
  • The alleged violation must have occurred or you become aware within 56 days of the complaint.
  • Your caseworker will compare the complaint to the current parenting time order to determine if the Court order was not followed. You will receive a response within 14 days. If the caseworker agrees that a violation appears to have occurred, a notice and copy of the complaint will be sent to the other party. They will have 21 days to respond or make up the denied parenting time. If make up parenting time cannot be applied or the other party files a response, the friend of the court may schedule a hearing to allow the other parent to show cause why they should not be found in contempt of the order.  

Parenting Time Violation Complaint

What happens if I deny parenting time to the other parent?

  • The other party has the option to file a written complaint with the friend of the court.
  • If the complaint appears to be a violation of the current parenting time order, a notice and copy of the complaint will be sent to you. You will then have 21 days to respond to the complaint.
  • If a response is received or make up parenting time cannot be applied, a show cause hearing may be scheduled in front of the Referee.   This hearing will give you the opportunity to show cause why you should not be held in contempt of the order.

Can I move if I have sole custody of my child(ren)?

  • If you have sole legal and sole physical custody, you may be able to move. The effect of changes in parenting time due to the move must be considered. Contact your friend of the court caseworker for more information. You are still required to inform the friend of the court of changes in address, phone number, and employment.
  • If the other party and you share joint legal custody, you must either file a Motion Regarding Change of Domicile/Legal Residence or, if the other party agrees with the move, a Stipulation Regarding Change of Domicile/Legal Residence.

Child Support

What is the difference between a Request for Child Support Review and a Motion Regarding Support?

  • Support Review Request Form can be filed with the friend of the court (no filing fee) when it has been 36 months or more since your last child support review or the requesting party can document a substantial change of circumstances.
  • A Motion Regarding Support can be filed with the Circuit Court Clerk ($60 Filing Fee) when a party is seeking to modify the current child support order. The moving party will contact the friend of the court office to schedule a hearing in front of the Referee when preparing to file the motion.

Why is child support still charged when we have 50-50 custody?

  • Child support is calculated using the Michigan Child Support Formula. The formula considers multiple factors including, but not limited to, both parent’s income, the number of overnights each parent has, cost of health insurance premiums paid on behalf of the child(ren), and cost of child care paid by each parent. These factors may result in one parent paying the other parent child support.

How can I monitor my child support case without having to come into or call the office?

  • Each party has access to the MiChildSupport website (
  • You will need certain information from your case to create your profile. Make sure the friend of the court has your correct mailing address on file. To complete the registration process and gain full access to the information on MiChildSupport, a PIN will be mailed to you.

How do I request reimbursement of the medical expenses I have paid for?

  • If a parent fails to pay his or her share, the FOC will help collect it if the following four conditions are satisfied:
  1. The amount exceeds the annual ordinary amount in the order, or the requesting parent is the support payer.
  2. One parent requests payment from the other parent within 28 days after receiving an insurer’s denial of coverage, the insurer’s final payment, or the date on the bill for services.
  3. The other parent does not pay within 28 days of the request for payment.
  4. The FOC’s assistance is requested within one year after incurring the expense, or within six months after the insurer has denied coverage, or within six months after the other parent fails to pay as required.
  • If a parent submits a request to the FOC that meets those four requirements, the FOC will notify the other parent of the amount due. If the parent does not object within 21 days, the unpaid amount becomes a support arrearage subject to any of the enforcement processes summarized earlier. If the parent objects, the FOC must schedule a hearing to decide how to pay the amount that the health insurer did not pay.
  • For more detailed instructions, a copy of the 46th Circuit Health Care Expense Policy is available from the friend of the court office.

Health Care Expense Tally Sheet

FOC13 Request for Health Care Expense Payment

FOC13a Complaint and Notice for health Care Expense Payment

How do I know if my tax refund will be garnished?

  • If you owe more than $150 in past due child support, State tax refunds may be intercepted.
  • If you owe more than $500 in past due child support, Federal tax refunds may be intercepted.

My child is enrolled in the Early College program, when will child support stop charging?

  • Early College is not considered full-time high school attendance. If your child turns 18 before the 12th grade graduation date and post-majority support is specified in the child support order, support will continue until the end of the graduation month.
  • MCL 552.605b(2) states, “The court may order child support for the time a child is regularly attending high school on a full-time basis with a reasonable expectation of completing sufficient credits to graduate from high school while residing on a full-time basis with the recipient of support or at an institution, but in no case after the child reaches 19 years and 6 months of age. A complaint or motion requesting support as provided in this section may be filed at any time before the child reaches 19 years and 6 months of age.”

SMILE Program

Why do I have to attend the SMILE program if my case is not a divorce?

  • Family Separation is a very emotional and stressful situation for individuals, especially children. Often there are concerns about dealing with losses and ongoing changes. The more parents know about the process and the challenges of living in separate homes, the better they are able to cope with the changes and help their children adjust. The day to day commitment for raising children remains a two parent responsibility.

Is there an online SMILE program I can take instead of attending in person?

  • No. Otsego County does not participate with any online programs. Out of state parties are provided an alternative program.


How do I get additional copies of the current orders in my case?

  • Copies are available for $1.00 per page at the Otsego County Clerk or Friend of the Court office. Payment must be received before the copies can be provided.
  • Contact the Otsego County Clerk at (989)731-7500 or in person at 225 W. Main St. Gaylord, MI 49735.
  • In person at the friend of the court office at 800 Livingston Blvd. Ste. 1A Gaylord, MI 49735. Cash payment and photo ID will be needed to release the copies. The friend of the court is only permitted to release copies of your orders to you or the other party on your case.

Who do I talk to about terminating parental rights and/or stepparent adoption?

  • For children residing in Otsego County, contact the Probate Court at (989)731-0204

Neither party lives in Otsego County anymore. Why hasn’t the case been transferred?

  • Cases are not automatically transferred when parties no longer live in the county.
  • Either party may file a Motion/Stipulation For Transferring Case (FOC 24) with the Circuit Court Clerk. There will be a $20 filing fee. Forms are available at the friend of the court office.
  • An additional filing fee of $175 will be required at the time of transfer.



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