When a court makes a decision, it must sign a written order summarizing the decision. Someone must prepare the order. Usually, one of the attorneys prepares the order, but sometimes the judge prepares it. Either way, an order is not enforceable until a judge signs it and someone files the signed order with the county clerk.
A referee can only recommend an order and prepare it; the recommended order does not become enforceable until a judge signs it or until it enters because neither party objected within a certain amount of time. If you disagree with an order and want to challenge it, your options include filing an objection with the court. You can find the Objection Forms linked here. You cannot change an order by filing a grievance or by complaining to other government agencies.
Courts sometimes enter temporary orders that remain in effect only until the parties have an opportunity to present more detailed evidence and arguments at a later hearing. This often happens in divorce cases.
ExParte Orders (temporary orders entered at the request of one party before any formal hearing)
A judge will enter an ExParte order without the other party present when the judge believes that serious harm will occur. ExParte orders usually are intended to keep the situation stable until the judge can hear from both parties. A party who disagrees with an ExParte order may file a written objection to the order or file a motion asking the court to change or cancel the order. Even if an objection or motion is filed, the ExParte order will remain in effect until it is changed by the court.
When an ExParte order deals with custody, parenting time, or child support, the order will include a notice that a written objection or a motion to change the order may be filed within 14 days. If the other party disagrees they may file an objection. You can find the Objection Forms linked here.
Temporary and Final Orders
Normally, a court will change an order if both parties have agreed to the change. Otherwise, the court will modify an order only after one party files a motion and the court holds a hearing on the motion.
The parties’ agreement to change a previous court order will be recognized by the court and the Friend of the Court only after the judge signs and enters a new order that approves the agreement. Telling or writing to tell a Friend of the Court employee or a Department of Human Services worker that the parties have agreed to something cannot change the court’s previous order.
A referee is an attorney who is appointed by the chief judge of the circuit court to preside over hearings involving custody, parenting time, and child support issues. A referee hearing is similar to a hearing before a judge. The referee’s decision may have immediate effect. A party may file an objection to a referee’s recommendation and request a hearing before the Judge. The objection must be in writing and must be filed with the Shiawassee County Clerk's Office. You can find the Objection Forms linked here.
Reconciliations and Dismissals
Not every case ends with separated parents. If parties are trying to work out their differences and wish to have enforcement of their order stopped they may contact their enforcement officer at the Friend of the Court. Enforcement of a support obligation cannot be stopped except by court order.
If the parties wish to stop all further action on a case, they must file a Dismissal with the court and provide a copy to the Friend of the Court. In that situation, when the State of Michigan has provided financial assistance to the parties’ children or spouse while the case was pending, the support payer must pay any previously-ordered child support to the State of Michigan. Finally, before the case may be dismissed, the support payer must pay any amounts owed to the court or the county. If those requirements are met, the court will sign an order dismissing the case.
Enforcing Orders When One of the Parents Leaves Michigan
The obligation to pay child support does not end when a parent leaves Michigan, even if it is the custodial parent and the parties’ children who move. Both parents must tell the Friend of the Court whenever they move. The support payer must continue to pay support and the Friend of the Court must continue to enforce the court order. If either party wishes to change domicile (move out of the state), either party must file a Motion to do so. You can find the Motion to Change Domicile/Legal Residence Forms linked here.
If a support payer leaves Michigan and stops paying as ordered, there are laws that allow Michigan courts to have their support orders enforced in other states. For example, every state has passed the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA), a law that allows one state’s court to set and enforce support obligations when the parents live in or earn an income in different states. Under UIFSA, a court in another state may be required to use its laws to withhold the payer’s income, enforce the order, set or modify a support order, or assist with finding the payer’s assets.