Friend of Court > Starting a New Case

Starting a New Case

Parties who have a child(ren) and who have never been married, or are married but separated, can begin a new case by calling the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services at 1-866-540-0008, by visiting the DHHS child support website or by filling out form e1201 on the MiCase Portal.

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) will send a case referral to the Prosecutor’s Office. The Prosecutor’s office then files a complaint for paternity or support with the Court. The other party, (defendant) needs to be served with the complaint and appropriate paperwork. Once paternity is established, the Court enters an order of referral sending the case to the Friend of Court. A referee hearing will be scheduled and notice sent to both parties. At the time of the hearing, the Friend of the Court will make a recommendation to the Judge on the issues of custody, parenting time and child support. Both parties will receive a written copy of the referee’s recommendation with a notice for a hearing before the judge. If the parties agree with the recommendation, no one needs to appear before the Judge and he or she will sign an order that reflects the recommendation. If either party does not agree with the recommendation, the parties need to appear for the hearing and the Judge will decide if the order should be changed and/or signed. Once the Judge signs the order, the Friend of Court is able to enforce any and/or all issues.

Parties that are married may begin a divorce proceeding. Parties that have never married but share a child may also filed a Complaint to Establish Paternity/Custody:

  1. An attorney can file the following information for you:
    • Summons and Complaint
    • Complaint for Divorce/Custody
    • Verified Statement
    • Serve the other party with the proper paperwork
    • Draft orders for you from the Referee recommendations, or per the agreement of the parties.
  2. If you wish to file for divorce/custody without the assistance of an attorney, the following information must be completed and submitted to the County Clerk, with copies to the other party and the Friend of Court:
    • The original Summons and Complaint
    • Complaint for Divorce
    • Verified Statement.

*Please Note: Forms may be obtained through your local library or a bookstore or through MichiganLegalHelp.org.


Instructions: Once the other party has been served with the above paperwork, a Resolution Conference will be scheduled by the FOC. Parties will meet with a FOC facilitator to reach an agreement on the issues of custody and parenting time. If parties fail to reach an agreement a referee hearing will be scheduled for recommendations to the Judge on those issues. Parties will be required to submit questionnaires and income information to FOC so that a recommendation on child support can be completed. Temporary orders will enter for custody, parenting time and child support. The filing party, or Plaintiff, is still responsible for the entry of the final Judgment of Divorce, following a six month waiting period for divorce actions involving minor children.

Paternity: The term paternity refers to the legal father of a minor child. A father can sign an Affidavit of Parentage any time after the birth of the minor child to admit to being the father of the child. Paternity can also be established through a DNA test ordered by a Judge or done independently. If the DNA test determines that the alleged father cannot be excluded as the father of a minor child, then a case can be referred to the Friend of Court for a recommendation as to custody, parenting time, child support, and any other issues the parties may have.

*Please Note: If a child is conceived during a marriage, then the husband of the mother is automatically the “LEGAL” Father of that child, unless proven otherwise.

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