Handling over 300,000 child custody and child support cases each year, the Wayne County Friend of the Court is part of one of Michigan’s busiest courts. As such, it attracts a large amount of criticism from those embroiled in difficult and bitter family law cases, many of whom say the FOC routinely dismisses their concerns and fails to use its authority and power to assist them when they need help.
One man has battled the WC FOC system for over 16 years in effort to contest child support charges. He claims that an acquaintance lied to the FOC, claiming that he fathered her child. He argues the woman failed to appear in court on 22 occasions, but the FOC has repeatedly refused to accept a DNA test that he said would prove that he is not the child’s father. The FOC even jailed him for failing to pay $16,000 in child support for the child.
Another woman claims the FOC has failed to help her collect almost $40,000 in delinquent child support payments owed to her by her son’s father. She says that even when she discovered that the man had been hiding his and the child’s Social Security benefits from her and the court, the FOC did not investigate the issue or encourage him to give her a share of the payments. In fact, the FOC ordered her to submit her pay stubs, which were used to lower the man’s owed child support to $33,000.
Officials with the WC FOC say it is suffering from a significant lack of resources and staff. The FOC’s staff recently shrank from 700 employees to just 220, who still handle the same large caseload. One attorney who has long represented FOC clients suggested that its staff is “overwhelmed and overworked,” making it ill-equipped to handle the concerns raised by frustrated citizens.
Source: WXYZ, “Why are so many people frustrated with the Wayne County Friend of the Court?” Bill Proctor, Nov. 18, 2012