HOUSE BILL No. 4305

 

 

March 7, 2019, Introduced by Reps. Vaupel and Brixie and referred to the Committee on Families, Children, and Seniors.

 

     A bill to amend 1982 PA 294, entitled

 

"Friend of the court act,"

 

by amending sections 2, 2a, 17, and 19 (MCL 552.502, 552.502a,

 

552.517, and 552.519), section 2 as amended by 2015 PA 253 and

 

sections 2a, 17, and 19 as amended by 2009 PA 233.

 

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF MICHIGAN ENACT:

 

     Sec. 2. As used in this act:

 

     (a) "Alternative dispute resolution" means a process

 

established under section 13 by which the parties are assisted in

 

voluntarily formulating an agreement to resolve a dispute

 

concerning child custody or parenting time that arises from a

 

domestic relations matter.

 

     (b) "Bureau" means the state friend of the court bureau

 

created in section 19.

 


     (c) "Centralizing enforcement" means the process authorized

 

under section 10 of the office of child support act, 1971 PA 174,

 

MCL 400.240.

 

     (d) "Chief judge" means the following:

 

     (i) The circuit judge in a judicial circuit having only 1

 

circuit judge.

 

     (ii) The chief judge of the circuit court in a judicial

 

circuit having 2 or more circuit judges.

 

     (e) "Citizen advisory committee" means a citizen friend of the

 

court advisory committee established as provided in section 4.

 

     (f) "Consumer reporting agency" means a person that, for

 

monetary fees or dues, or on a cooperative nonprofit basis,

 

regularly engages in whole or in part in the practice of assembling

 

or evaluating consumer credit information or other information on

 

consumers for the purpose of furnishing consumer reports to third

 

parties, and that uses any means or facility of interstate commerce

 

for the purpose of preparing or furnishing consumer reports. As

 

used in this subdivision, "consumer report" means that term as

 

defined in section 603 of the fair credit reporting act, 15 USC

 

1681a.

 

     (g) "County board" means the county board of commissioners in

 

the county served by the office. If a judicial circuit includes

 

more than 1 county, action required to be taken by the county board

 

means action by the county boards of commissioners for all counties

 

composing that circuit.

 

     (h) "Court" means the circuit court.

 

     (i) "Current employment" means employment within 1 year before


a friend of the court request for information.

 

     (j) "Custody or parenting time order violation" means an

 

individual's act or failure to act that interferes with a parent's

 

right to interact with his or her child in the time, place, and

 

manner established in the order that governs custody or parenting

 

time between the parent and the child and to which the individual

 

accused of interfering is subject.

 

     (k) "De novo hearing" means a new judicial consideration of a

 

matter previously heard by a referee.

 

     (l) "Department" means the department of health and human

 

services.

 

     (m) "Domestic relations matter" means a circuit court

 

proceeding as to child custody, parenting time, child support, or

 

spousal support, that arises out of litigation under a statute of

 

this state, including, but not limited to, the following:

 

     (i) 1846 RS 84, MCL 552.1 to 552.45.

 

     (ii) The family support act, 1966 PA 138, MCL 552.451 to

 

552.459.

 

     (iii) The child custody act of 1970, 1970 PA 91, MCL 722.21 to

 

722.31.

 

     (iv) 1968 PA 293, MCL 722.1 to 722.6.

 

     (v) The paternity act, 1956 PA 205, MCL 722.711 to 722.730.

 

     (vi) The revised uniform reciprocal enforcement of support

 

act, 1952 PA 8, MCL 780.151 to 780.183.

 

     (vii) The uniform interstate family support act, (2015).2015

 

PA 255, MCL 552.2101 to 552.2905.

 

     (n) "Friend of the court" means the person serving under


section 21(1) or appointed under section 23 as the head of the

 

office of the friend of the court.

 

     (o) "Friend of the court case" means a domestic relations

 

matter that an office establishes as a friend of the court case as

 

required under section 5a.

 

     (p) "Health care coverage" means a fee for service, health

 

maintenance organization, preferred provider organization, or other

 

type of private health care coverage or public health care

 

coverage.

 

     (q) (p) "Income" means that term as defined in section 2 of

 

the support and parenting time enforcement act, MCL 552.602.

 

     Sec. 2a. As used in this act:

 

     (a) "Medical assistance" means medical assistance as

 

established under title XIX of the social security act, 42 USC 1396

 

to 1396v.1396w-5.

 

     (b) "Office" and "office of the friend of the court" mean an

 

agency created in section 3.

 

     (c) "Office of child support" means the office of child

 

support created in section 2 of the office of child support act,

 

1971 PA 174, MCL 400.232.

 

     (d) (c) "Payer" means a person ordered by the circuit court to

 

pay support.

 

     (e) "Private health care coverage" means health care coverage

 

obtained through an employer or purchased by an individual from an

 

insurer.

 

     (f) (d) "Public assistance" means cash assistance provided

 

under the social welfare act, 1939 PA 280, MCL 400.1 to 400.119b.


     (g) "Public health care coverage" means health care coverage

 

that is established or maintained by a local, state, or federal

 

government such as Medicaid established under title XIX of the

 

social security act, 42 USC 1396 to 1396w-5 or the state children's

 

health insurance program established under title XXI of the social

 

security act, 42 USC 1397aa to 1397mm.

 

     (h) (e) "Recipient of support" means the following:

 

     (i) The spouse, if the support order orders spousal support.

 

     (ii) The custodial parent or guardian, if the support order

 

orders support for a minor child or a child who is 18 years of age

 

or older.

 

     (iii) The department, of human services, if support has been

 

assigned to that department.

 

     (iv) The county, if the minor is in county-supported foster

 

care.

 

     (i) (f) "State advisory committee" means the committee

 

established by the bureau under section 19.

 

     (j) (g) "State disbursement unit" or "SDU" means the entity

 

established in section 6 of the office of child support act, 1971

 

PA 174, MCL 400.236.

 

     (k) (h) "Support" means all of the following:

 

     (i) The payment of money for a child or a spouse ordered by

 

the circuit court, whether the order is embodied in an interim,

 

temporary, permanent, or modified order or judgment. Support may

 

include payment of the expenses of medical, dental, and other

 

health care, child care expenses, and educational expenses.

 

     (ii) The payment of money ordered by the circuit court under


the paternity act, 1956 PA 205, MCL 722.711 to 722.730, for the

 

necessary expenses connected to the pregnancy of the mother or the

 

birth of the child, or for the repayment of genetic testing

 

expenses.

 

     (iii) A surcharge under section 3a of the support and

 

parenting time enforcement act, MCL 552.603a.

 

     (l) (i) "Support and parenting time enforcement act" means

 

1982 PA 295, MCL 552.601 to 552.650.

 

     (m) (j) "Support order" means an order entered by the circuit

 

court for the payment of support in a sum certain, whether in the

 

form of a lump sum or a periodic payment.

 

     (n) (k) "Title IV-D" means part D of title IV of the social

 

security act, 42 USC 651 to 669b.

 

     (o) (l) "Title IV-D agency" means that term as defined in

 

section 2 of the support and parenting time enforcement act, MCL

 

552.602.

 

     Sec. 17. (1) After a final judgment containing a child support

 

order has been entered in a friend of the court case, the office

 

shall use a procedure provided in section 17b to periodically

 

review the order, as follows:

 

     (a) If a child is being supported in whole or in part by

 

public assistance, not less than once each 36 months unless both of

 

the following apply:

 

     (i) The office receives notice from the department that good

 

cause exists not to proceed with support action.

 

     (ii) Neither party has requested a review.

 

     (b) Upon receipt of a written request from either party.


Within 14 days after receipt of the review request, the office

 

shall determine whether the order is due for review. The office is

 

not required to act on more than 1 request received from a party

 

each 36 months.

 

     (c) If a child is receiving medical assistance, not less than

 

once each 36 months unless either of the following applies:

 

     (i) The order requires provision of health care coverage for

 

the child and neither party has requested a review.

 

     (ii) The office receives notice from the department of human

 

services that good cause exists not to proceed with support action

 

and neither party has requested a review.

 

     (d) If requested by the initiating state for a recipient of

 

services in that state under title IV-D, not less than once each 36

 

months. Within 14 days after receipt of a review request, the

 

office shall determine whether an order is due for review.

 

     (e) At the direction of the court.

 

     (f) At the initiative of the office, if there are reasonable

 

grounds to believe that the amount of child support awarded in the

 

judgment should be modified or that dependent health care coverage

 

is available and the support order should be modified, to include

 

an order for health care coverage. or both. Reasonable grounds to

 

review an order under this subdivision include any of the

 

following:

 

     (i) Temporary or permanent changes in the physical custody of

 

a child that the court has not ordered.

 

     (ii) Increased or decreased need of the child.

 

     (iii) Probable access by an employed a parent to dependent


health care coverage that is accessible to the child and available

 

at a reasonable cost. Health care coverage is presumed accessible

 

to the child and presumed available at a reasonable cost if it

 

meets the guidelines provided in the child support formula

 

developed by the bureau under section 19.

 

     (iv) Changed dependent health care coverage cost from the

 

amount used in the prior child support order.

 

     (v) (iv) Changed financial conditions of a recipient of

 

support or a payer, including any of the following:

 

     (A) Application for or receipt of public assistance,

 

unemployment compensation, or worker's compensation.

 

     (B) Incarceration or release from incarceration after a

 

criminal conviction and sentencing to a term of more than 1 year.

 

Within 14 days after receiving information that a recipient of

 

support or payer is incarcerated or released from incarceration as

 

described in this sub-subparagraph, the office shall initiate a

 

review of the order.

 

     (vi) (v) That the order was based on incorrect facts.

 

     (2) A review initiated by the office under subsection (1)(f)

 

does not preclude the recipient of support or payer from requesting

 

a review under subsection (1)(b).

 

     (3) Within 180 days after determining that a review is

 

required under subsection (1), the office shall obtain a

 

modification of the order if appropriate.

 

     (4) The office shall use the child support formula developed

 

by the bureau under section 19 in calculating the child support

 

award under section 17b.


     (5) The office shall petition the court if modification is

 

determined to be necessary under section 17b unless either of the

 

following applies:

 

     (a) The difference between the existing and projected child

 

support award is less than the minimum threshold for modification

 

of a child support amount as established by the formula.

 

     (b) The court previously determined that application of the

 

formula was unjust or inappropriate and the office determines that

 

the facts of the case and the reasons for and amount of the prior

 

deviation remain unchanged.

 

     (6) The notice under section 17b(3) constitutes a petition for

 

modification of the support order and shall be filed with the

 

court.

 

     (7) If the office determines there should be no change in the

 

order and a party objects to the determination in writing to the

 

office within 21 days after the date of the notice provided for in

 

section 17b(3), the office shall schedule a hearing before the

 

court.

 

     (8) If a support order lacks provisions for health care

 

coverage, the office shall petition the court for a modification to

 

require that 1 or both parents obtain or maintain health care

 

coverage for the benefit of each child who is subject to the

 

support order if either of the following is true:when health care

 

coverage is accessible to the child and available at a reasonable

 

cost. The office shall use the guidelines provided for in the child

 

support formula developed by the bureau under section 19 to

 

recommend which parent provides health care coverage that is


accessible to the child and available at a reasonable cost. The

 

office shall not petition the court to require both parents to

 

provide health care coverage under this subsection unless both

 

parents already provide coverage or both agree to provide coverage.

 

This subsection does not prevent the court from exercising its

 

discretion to order health care coverage based on the child's needs

 

or the parent's resources.

 

     (a) Either parent has health care coverage available, as a

 

benefit of employment, for the benefit of the child at a reasonable

 

cost.

 

     (b) Either parent is self-employed, maintains health care

 

coverage for himself or herself, and can obtain health care

 

coverage for the benefit of the child at a reasonable cost.

 

     (9) The office shall determine the costs to each parent for

 

dependent health care coverage and child care costs and shall

 

disclose those costs in the recommendation under section 17b(3).

 

     Sec. 19. (1) The state friend of the court bureau is created

 

within the state court administrative office, under the supervision

 

and direction of the supreme court.

 

     (2) The bureau shall have its main office in Lansing.

 

     (3) The bureau shall do all of the following:

 

     (a) Develop and recommend guidelines for conduct, operations,

 

and procedures of the office and its employees, including, but not

 

limited to, the following:

 

     (i) Case load and staffing standards for employees who perform

 

alternative dispute resolution functions, investigation and

 

recommendation functions, referee functions, enforcement functions,


and clerical functions.

 

     (ii) Orientation programs for clients of the office.

 

     (iii) Public educational programs regarding domestic relations

 

law and community resources, including financial and other

 

counseling, and employment opportunities.

 

     (iv) Procedural changes in response to the type of grievances

 

received by an office.

 

     (v) Model pamphlets and procedural forms, which shall be

 

distributed to each office.

 

     (vi) A formula to be used in establishing and modifying a

 

child support amount and health care obligation. The formula shall

 

be based upon the needs of the child and the actual resources of

 

each parent. The formula shall establish a minimum threshold for

 

modification of a child support amount. The formula shall consider

 

the child care and dependent health care coverage costs of each

 

parent. The formula shall include guidelines for determining which

 

parent is required to maintain health care coverage for the child

 

and include a presumption for determining the reasonable cost and

 

accessibility of health care coverage. The formula shall include

 

guidelines for setting and administratively adjusting the amount of

 

periodic payments for overdue support, including guidelines for

 

adjustment of arrearage payment schedules when the current support

 

obligation for a child terminates and the payer owes overdue

 

support.

 

     (b) Provide training programs for the friend of the court,

 

providers of alternative dispute resolution, and employees of the

 

office to better enable them to carry out the duties described in


this act and supreme court rules. After September 30, 2002, the The

 

training programs shall include training in the dynamics of

 

domestic violence and in handling domestic relations matters that

 

have a history of domestic violence.

 

     (c) Gather and monitor relevant statistics.

 

     (d) Annually issue a report containing a detailed summary of

 

the types of grievances received by each office, and whether the

 

grievances are resolved or outstanding. The report shall be

 

transmitted to the legislature and to each office and shall be made

 

available to the public. The annual report required by this

 

subdivision shall include, but is not limited to, all of the

 

following:

 

     (i) An evaluative summary, supplemented by applicable

 

quantitative data, of the activities and functioning of each

 

citizen advisory committee during the preceding year.

 

     (ii) An evaluative summary, supplemented by applicable

 

quantitative data, of the activities and functioning of the

 

aggregate of all citizen advisory committees in this state during

 

the preceding year.

 

     (iii) An identification of problems that impede the efficiency

 

of the activities and functioning of the citizen advisory

 

committees and the satisfaction of the users of the committees'

 

services.

 

     (e) Develop and recommend guidelines to be used by an office

 

in determining whether or not parenting time has been wrongfully

 

denied by the custodial parent.

 

     (f) Develop standards and procedures for the transfer of part


or all of the responsibilities for a case from one 1 office to

 

another in situations considered appropriate by the bureau.

 

     (g) Certify alternative dispute resolution training programs.

 

     (h) Establish a 9-person state advisory committee, serving

 

without compensation except as provided in subsection (4), composed

 

of the following members, giving preference to a member of a

 

citizen advisory committee:

 

     (i) Three public members who have had contact with an office

 

of the friend of the court.

 

     (ii) Three attorneys who are members of the state bar of

 

Michigan and whose practices are primarily domestic relations law.

 

Not more than 1 attorney may be a circuit court judge.

 

     (iii) Three human service professionals who provide family

 

counseling.

 

     (i) Cooperate with the office of child support in developing

 

and implementing a statewide information system as provided in the

 

office of child support act, 1971 PA 174, MCL 400.231 to 400.240.

 

     (j) Develop and make available guidelines to assist the office

 

of the friend of the court in determining the appropriateness in

 

individual cases of the following:

 

     (i) Imposing a lien or requiring the posting of a bond,

 

security, or other guarantee to secure the payment of support.

 

     (ii) Implementing the offset of a delinquent payer's state

 

income tax refund.

 

     (k) Develop and provide the office of the friend of the court

 

with all of the following:

 

     (i) Form motions, responses, and orders to be used by a party,


without the assistance of legal counsel, in making or responding to

 

a motion for a payment plan under section 5e of the support and

 

parenting time enforcement act, MCL 552.605e, or for the

 

modification of a child support, custody, or parenting time order,

 

including a domicile or residence provision.

 

     (ii) Instructions on preparing and filing the forms,

 

instructions on service of process, and instructions on scheduling

 

a support, custody, or parenting time modification hearing.

 

     (iii) Guidelines for imputing income for the calculation of

 

child support.

 

     (l) Develop guidelines for, and encourage the use of, plain

 

language within the office of the friend of the court including,

 

but not limited to, the use of plain language in forms and

 

instructions within the office and in statements of account

 

provided as required in section 9.

 

     (m) In consultation with the domestic and sexual violence

 

prevention and treatment board created in section 2 of 1978 PA 389,

 

MCL 400.1502, develop guidelines for the implementation of section

 

41 of the support and parenting time enforcement act, MCL 552.641,

 

that take into consideration at least all of the following

 

regarding the parties and each child involved in a dispute governed

 

by section 41 of the support and parenting time enforcement act,

 

MCL 552.641:

 

     (i) Domestic violence.

 

     (ii) Safety of the parties and child.

 

     (iii) Uneven bargaining positions of the parties.

 

     (n) Coordinate the provision of title IV-D services by the


friend of the court and cooperate with the office of child support

 

in providing those services.

 

     (4) The state advisory committee established under subsection

 

(3)(h) shall advise the bureau in the performance of its duties

 

under this section. The bureau shall make a state advisory

 

committee report or recommendation available to the public. State

 

advisory committee members shall be reimbursed for their expenses

 

for mileage, meals, and, if necessary, lodging, under the schedule

 

for reimbursement established annually by the legislature. A state

 

advisory committee meeting is open to the public. A member of the

 

public attending a state advisory committee meeting shall be given

 

a reasonable opportunity to address the committee on any issue

 

under consideration by the committee. If a vote is to be taken by

 

the state advisory committee, the opportunity to address the

 

committee shall be given before the vote is taken.

 

     (5) The bureau may call upon each office of the friend of the

 

court for assistance in performing the duties imposed in this

 

section.