Your Cass County Friend of the Court: The Importance of Communication

Navigating the court system can be a stressful and daunting experience. This past year, that may have even felt impossible at times as policy and procedure had to evolve quickly to meet quarantine requirements. The Cass County Friend of the Court works hard to alleviate some of this stress by constantly improving customer service and keeping clients up to date on the progress of their case. What this past year has ultimately shown us is the importance of communication between the FOC and our clients, particularly when it comes to sharing contact information.

Both parties are required by court order to keep their addresses, employers, and phone numbers up to date with the FOC. Parties can make this process easier by proactively staying in touch with the FOC to ensure that changes in personal information are updated timely. This is incredibly important as the FOC relies on this information to effectively communicate with clients about important aspects of their case. Without accurate contact or address information on file, important documents like court date notices and review/modification forms could go undelivered causing clients to potentially miss a court hearing or opportunity to provide needed information for their case.

There are several tools you can use to streamline this process.  You can sign up for an account with MiChildSupport online at micase.state.mi.us/micaseapp/public/home. MiChildSupport has a Customer Communication Dashboard that provides an easy, user-friendly way to ask questions and update information without having to make a phone call. You can also call the Cass FOC at (269) 445-4436 or stop by our office to update personal information, make payments, or answer questions you may have over the phone or in person. Additionally, questions or concerns may be directed to our email account foc@cassco.org.

You can also keep your information up to date by ensuring that all paperwork submitted to the FOC is filled out as completely and accurately as possible. For example, case questionnaires are sent out periodically to clients as part of the review/modification process.  These forms also allow FOC staff to double check your information for any changes and get in contact with you if we have any questions. Omitting or supplying incorrect information can negatively impact the FOC’s ability to communicate with you about your case.  Be sure to write legibly when submitting documentation to the us and to include accurate information. Ultimately, by having requested forms submitted timely with correct information, this will cut back on the amount of back-and-forth communication you may encounter and allow FOC staff to work your case more efficiently.

Communicating with the FOC is also a great way to ensure that you fully understand the status of your case. While the FOC is not permitted to give legal advice, we can provide definitions of complex legal terminology, as well as websites and phone numbers for legal resources that may be helpful. It is easy to get lost or confused while navigating your case, and FOC staff are happy to assist you in find the resources you need; whether that be additional forms, legal aid, or simply answering a question about how a process works. It is also important to update the FOC if you are experiencing any problems with your case. The FOC is not always notified if a client interacts with police or Child Protective Services, and we may not always be up to date with the latest developments.

At the Cass County FOC, we understand that at times having a child support case can be a frustrating experience, and because of this, we make customer service one of our top priorities. Our mission statement is “serving and empowering families to make children’s lives better,” and we try to show that to every client we interact with. 

If you have questions about the FOC that you think would be helpful to address in future columns, please send them to the FOC email address: foc@cassco.org.

This column was submitted on behalf of the Cass County Friend of the Court. Nicholas Klinger, Cass County FOC Casework Clerk.

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