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Ninth Judicial Circuit Court

FRIEND OF THE COURT HANDBOOK - GLOSSARY OF TERMS

Abatement - To reduce or diminish in part.

Adjournment - The postponing or putting off of a case to a later date.

Adjudication - The final judicial determination of a case by the giving of a judgment in a civil case.

Adoption - A legal proceeding where a person takes a child of another into his or her own family and for all legal purposes makes the child his or her own child.

Alimony - see spousal support.

Appeal - An application to a higher court to change the judgment or order of a lower court.

Arbitration - A procedure for determination of a contested matter where a person who is not a Judge but whose decision legally decides a matter binds the parties.

Arrearage - Money that is overdue and unpaid.

Attorney - A person licensed to practice law; a lawyer.

Bench Warrant - An order of the court for the arrest of a person so that the person can be brought before the court.

Chief Judge - The Judge who serves as the director of the administration of the court.

Child Abuse/Neglect - Mistreatment of a minor child by an adult legally responsible for the child.

Child Support - Payment of money ordered by a court for a child in a domestic relations action. Support also includes health care costs, childcare, costs and educational expenses for a child.

Child Support Formula - A formula created by the SCAO for use by the FOC and the Prosecuting attorney in making recommendations about child support amounts. Both parents' incomes are considered.

Circuit Court - The court of general jurisdiction in Michigan.

Complaint - An initial pleading in a case that asks the court to grant an order.

Contempt of Court Hearing - A court hearing in which the person accused of violating a court order has the opportunity to explain why they did not comply with the order. Also known as a "show cause" hearing.

Custody - Care and keeping of a child in a domestic relations action.

Defendant - The person against whom a lawsuit is filed.

Docket Number - this is the same as your case number. If you received a case number prior to software conversion (Sept '03) you may need to add the compete year to the front of your number.
Examples: case #94-006666 is docket #1994006666: and case #02-006666 is docket #2002006666.

DHS (Michigan Department of Human Services) - The state agency that handles the public assistance program.

Domestic Relations Matter - Any circuit court proceeding involving families, such as paternity, divorce, child custody or parenting time, or child or spousal support.

Dismissal - A court order terminating a particular case.

Divorce - The legal dissolution of a marriage.

Domicile- The permanent home to which a person, when absent, always intends to return; legal residence.

Emancipation - Legally becoming an adult. Emancipation usually occurs when a child attains the age of 18 years, but can also occur at a younger age if a child marries or joins the military, or by court order.

Enforcement - Action by MiCSES, the FOC or private attorneys to compel a person to follow a court order.

Ex Parte - On the request of one party only, without advance notice to the other party.

Ex Parte Order - An order made by the court at the request of one party without advance notice to the other party.

Family Division - The division of Circuit Court where domestic relations matters are heard.

Family Independence Program (FIP) - The program of public assistance handled by the DHS. Also known as the IV-D program and TANF.

File - To physically or electronically put in the records of the court.

Filing- The act of recording legal documents in a lawsuit, with the court clerk.

Friend of the Court (FOC) -Both the person serving as the head of the Office of the Friend of the Court, and the Office itself. In the text, the abbreviation FOC is used throughout.

Income Withholding Order - An order of the court requiring that money be withheld by an employer or other source of income from the income due to the payer and sent to the FOC in payment of support.

Income Withholding Notice (IWN) - A notice sent to an employer or other source of income notifying them that they must comply with an Income Withholding Order.

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system - an automated phone system with certain options for general information and other options for case/docket specific information. User-friendly cards are available at the Kalamazoo County FOC front counter.

Interstate Income Withholding Order - An order entered to require payment of support through an employer in another state.

Joint Legal Custody - An order of the court providing that parents share in major decisions concerning their child.

Joint Physical Custody - An order of the court providing that a child will live part of the time with one parent and part of the time with the other parent.

Judgment - The written decision of a court.

Lien - A legal claim against real or personal property.

Mediation - A process used by parties to reach their own agreements without a court hearing. The FOC will provide mediation services when there is a dispute over custody or parenting time, if both parties agree.

Michigan Court Rules ( MCR) - A set of formal, written rules concerning court procedures.

Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS) - The state agency that handles the public assistance program.

Minor - A child under the age of eighteen years.

Order - A written decision of a court.

Parenting Time Order - An order that establishes time to be spent between the child and the parent with whom they do not normally reside.

Party - A plaintiff or a defendant in a lawsuit.

Paternity suit - A legal proceeding to determine the father of a child born to parents who were not married to each other when the child was born.

Payee - the person or agency to whom support is sent. Also called the recipient of support.

Payer - A person ordered to pay support.

Petition - A formal written request to the court.

Plaintiff - The person who originally starts an action by filing a Complaint.

Pleadings - Papers filed by parties in a lawsuit stating their claims and defenses.

Pretrial Conference - An informal hearing between the Judge, the attorneys and sometimes the parties to discuss any matters that can be settled before a court hearing.

Pro Per - A person who represents himself or herself in court without an attorney.

Pro Se - Same as "Pro Per".

Protective Services (PS) - The part of the DHS dealing mainly with child abuse and neglect.

Public Assistance - A public benefit program administered by the DHS providing benefits to families under the provisions of Title IV-D of the Social Security Act; includes Food Stamps, Medicaid and child care.

Recipient - Same as Payee

Reconciliation - When parties to a domestic relations action decide to work out their differences and remain as a single-family unit.

Referee - A court officer who holds hearings, takes testimony and makes recommendations to the court.

Residence - The place where a person lives.

Show Cause Hearing - Same as Contempt of Court Hearing.

Sole Legal Custody -An order of the court that gives one person the authority to make major decisions concerning a child without consulting the other party or parties.

Sole Physical Custody - An order of the court providing that a child will live most of the time with one person (usually a parent) but generally awarding parenting time to the other parent.

State Court Administrative Office (SCAO) - The administrative agency of the Michigan Supreme Court.

Statutes - Laws of the State of Michigan enacted by the Legislature.

Stipulation - An agreement between parties or their attorneys that resolves a particular issue when a written order is entered.

Summons - A notice given to a Defendant that a court action has been started against them.

Support Order - an order issued by the circuit court requiring the payment of money for a child or spouse in a domestic relations action.

Suspension -
a) Temporarily stopping support or parenting time.
b) A revocation of professional licenses, driving licenses or recreational licenses until support payment problems are resolved.

Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) - A public benefit program administered by the DHS providing temporary benefits to families under the provisions of Title IV-D of the Social Security Act.

Testimony - The statement of a party or witness under oath that is given as evidence in a legal proceeding.

Transcript - A written, word for word record of proceedings at a hearing.

Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) - A law that allows recognition and enforcement of support orders where parents reside in different states.

Warrant - Same as Bench Warrant

Witness - A person that gives testimony as to what he or she has seen, heard or otherwise observed.

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