The office of the Friend of the Court was created in 1919 as part of the family division of the circuit court. The Friend of the Court serves as the “eyes and ears” of the circuit court family division judges. The office provides assistance to the court in matters that the court cannot exercise personal supervision over, and furnishes the court with recommendations related to domestic relations matters such as custody, parenting time and support. The person who makes the ultimate decision in any domestic relations action is the circuit court judge or family division judge to whom the case is assigned. Just as the role and function of the court has changed over the years, the office of the Friend of the Court has evolved considerably during its history based upon changes in statute, court rule and public policy.
Between 1919 and 1982 there were only eight amendments made to the Friend of the Court Act.
In 1982 after many years of public hearings, investigations, and studies by the Legislative Commission on the Courts, the Michigan Women’s Commission, and the Michigan Legislature, the Legislature enacted major changes to the Friend of the Court Act. The changes provided greater uniformity and better accountability in the provision of the Friend of the Court services. The overall goal of the changes was to increase the quality of services for litigants.