The Conciliation Process
In order to better assist divorcing couples with the process, the Friend of the Court will provide Conciliation services to the people of Eaton County. The process of Conciliation will begin at the time the divorce action is actually commenced.
When the Complaint for Divorce is filed with the court, the Friend of the Court will be notified, and they will make contact with each of the parents. This initial contact will be to advise the parents that they are required (by court order) to appear at the Friend of the Court office on a specific date and time, to meet with a Friend of the Court Conciliator. This person, a highly trained court professional, will meet with the parents in an effort to resolve initial problems surrounding the divorce.
One of the primary purposes of the Conciliation Conference will be to help the parents create a temporary order covering areas such as custody, parenting time, child support, and any other areas that might need to be addressed at that point in time. If the parents are unable to reach agreements regarding these issues, decisions may be made for the parents by the Conciliator. This is called a Conciliator's Recommended Order, which will become an order of the court. Either parent has a right to appeal those decisions, and may do so by filing an appeal of the Conciliator’s Recommended Order within 21 days of the judge's signature.
The Conciliator may also choose to request an investigation regarding certain issues of the case, depending on the information provided by the parties. If this option is used, the parties will be contacted by a Friend of the Court Investigator sometime after the Conciliator requests the investigation.
When the parties appear for the Conciliation Conference, they will be requested to bring recent documentation regarding their earnings. This will be in the form of their most recent income tax return, W-2 statement, and recent paycheck stubs. This information will be used to evaluate such areas as child support and/or spousal support. It is very important that these documents be provided to the Friend of the Court Conciliator. The Conciliation Conference is often the first opportunity the parents have had to discuss important topics surrounding their relationship since the parties separated. The Conciliator will control these discussions in order to keep the parents on track, and will assist them by offering solutions to various problems that they may have encountered.
The Conciliation process is essential to making your case as stress free as is humanly possible. If the parties fail to show up for their scheduled Conciliation Conference, their divorce may be delayed. If there are issues of domestic violence involved in your case, please advise the Friend of the Court as soon as possible so that alternative scheduling will be done such that the Conciliator will meet separately with each of the Parties.
Parties are encouraged to attend and participate at the Conciliation Conference without attorneys. The Friend of the Court believes the Conciliation Conference best functions in an informal and nonadversarial manner. The majority of Conciliation Conferences are not attended by attorneys. However, if a Party desires that his or her attorney attend the Conciliation Conference, advance written notice of the same shall be provided to the other Party, to the attorney of the other party, and to the Friend of the Court so that opposing Counsel may also attend the Conciliation Conference if desired. Failure to provide this notice may result in adjournment of the Conciliation Conference.