Facilitative Information Gathering Conference (FIG/Facilitation)
A FIG is a private meeting with a Friend of the Court (FOC) Facilitator. The Facilitator's job is to meet with the parents to discuss custody, parenting time, and child support. The Facilitator will try to help the parents reach an agreement on these issues. If the parents are able to agree, the Facilitator will prepare the proper legal paperwork for the parties to sign. If the parents are not able to reach an agreement, the Facilitator will conduct an interview with the parents during this meeting and prepare a report and recommendation for the judge. If the judge agrees with the Facilitator's recommendation for custody, parenting time, and child support, a temporary order will be entered and the parents must follow these orders. As the recommendation is made by a Facilitator rather than your judge, you will have 21 days from the date the order was entered to file an objection if you disagree with the recommendation and order. The parents must continue to follow the temporary order, even if they disagree with it and filed an objection, until you have a hearing with your judge and a new order is signed by the judge.
When the FOC schedules your FIG, you will receive a letter in the mail giving you the date and time of your appointment. You will also receive paperwork with this letter that you must complete and return to the FOC before your appointment. The FOC understands that this takes time and work to do, however please remember that the process is focused on meeting the best interests of your child(ren). Additionally, you are required by law to provide this information to the FOC, and there are penalties for failing to do so such as being asked to appear for a show cause hearing with the judge or fines.
When a Facilitator has to make a recommendation on custody, the Facilitator is required to consider information relevant to the Michigan Best Interest Factors, which includes an interview with all children ages 5 years old and up. These factors can be reviewed at the following link:
The Facilitator is also able to consider additional factors related to parenting time, which can be reviewed at the following link:
The Facilitator will also calculate child support consistent with the Michigan Child Support Formula. The formula manual can be reviewed at the following link:
If you have any questions about this process, please feel free to contact the FOC prior to your appointment.