February 2006 • Volume 24 • Number 08
|From the President
"Bench Bar Conference" by Kathy J. Vogt
There is an old adage that “stuff” rolls down hill. Sometimes it seems that we, the attorneys, are at the bottom of that hill and when certain policies and procedures are imposed that “stuff” is piling right up on top of us. In reality, it is not the attorneys but the clients who get buried. It is our job to see that this doesn’t happen. Very often when policies are created, the creator sees only the objective desired without looking at the effect the policy has on the whole system. How do we address these concerns? Bench-Bar Conference, of course on April 1, 2006.
The Supreme Court has issued policies to encourage judges to move their docket quickly. To enforce their policies, they have imposed the threat of taking the judge before the Judicial Tenure Commission if they do not comply. We know that each court is different in the number of cases handled. We know that each case is different and does not always fit into a specified time line. Some require time to “mellow” before resolution can be obtained. The Supreme Court’s policy means that adjournments become more difficult to obtain. Cases will sometimes be tried rather than settled in an effort to clear the court’s docket in a timely manner. Granted, sometimes attorneys are dragging their feet and simply not coming to the table; those cases can usually be identified and handled accordingly. But should a judge force a trial in a matter just to clear the docket when the case could and should settle with just a little more time? The judges are pressured and so the attorneys are pressured and, ultimately, our clients take the brunt.
Some of the district court judges have set down policies that there will be no more “under advisement” pleas unless permitted by statute. This policy totally eliminates the opportunity for a client who has clearly made a mistake to take the punishment but clear the record quickly. The individual will have a record that can’t be expunged for five years. This may affect educational and job opportunities. Who is served by this policy? The judges who have implemented such a policy may have a very legitimate reason but until that reasoning is shared, we simply can’t understand.
The Prosecuting Attorney has issued new policies for the assistants to follow. The “no plea” policy means that many more cases will go to trial. Sometimes the defense is slim, but a good attorney will take the case to trial rather than plead “on the nose” to every charge. The end result is that the court’s docket becomes heavier. The Supreme Court’s policies will not be met. The judges may become cranky as they try to balance these policies while administering justice. And again, the client takes the brunt.
Macomb County is well known and respected for the great relationship enjoyed between bench and bar. Communication in the past has always been open and should continue to be so. Many problems experienced by the bar also affect the bench. The solution is to discuss the problems and find a solution that is workable for all concerned. The cooperation shown between the court and the sheriff’s department in addressing the jail overcrowding problems is a prime example. There are few problems that are insurmountable when communication and reasoning is applied.
The purpose of the Bench Bar Conference is to encourage open communication in a relaxed setting. Every judge contacted has responded very positively to the idea of the conference. This is our time to talk, listen and find solutions. I encourage every committee chair to discuss with your section members their specific concerns to be addressed at the conference. I invite all MCBA members to contact me or the Bar office to identify topics to be discussed. And, of course, I invite the judges, the prosecuting attorney, and all referees to contact us with suggested issues for discussion. Through the Bench Bar Conference, we can spread the “stuff” a little more evenly to nurture our system rather than bog it down.
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|From the Executive Director
"What We Were, What We Are, What Will We Be?"
by Rick R. Troy
With 100 years of organized history behind the MCBA it is important to take time to honor those who have blazed the legal trails before us. It is my hope that the exhibit that will be unveiled at the Centennial Opening Ceremony will indeed offer just honors for the people and events that has shaped our organization’s history. With 100 years behind us it is also a time for the organization to look at what is, and soon we must venture forth to see what will be.
As we take a look at what is, we must recognize that this is the first time in the MCBA’s history that four generations of attorneys are practicing among each other. It might even be said that, for the first time ever, we have four generations of Jurists serving the public.
Several books have been authored over the past few years regarding the cultural divides that exists between the generations. Authors such as Marilyn Moats Kennedy of Career Strategies, Inc. and Robert Putnam have provided us with empirical research and analysis that explains generational tendencies, viewpoints and loyalties that are based on unique generational upbringing. For example, ask a Traditionalist what he thinks the single greatest invention of the 20th Century was and you will most likely receive, “the automobile”, as an answer. Generation Xers will respond, “the computer”, and Millennials will undoubtedly respond, “the Internet”. So where does that leave the Baby Boomers?
In an article titled, “Bridging The Generational Divide”, co-founder of BridgeWorks, a generational diversity consulting and training company and co-author of the best-selling business book When Generations Collide: Who They Are. Why They Clash. How to Solve the Generational Puzzle at Work, Lynne Lancaster writes about the generational differences as they relate to the profession of law. Excerpted here are examples of how generational differences impact the practice of law.
|Who Are You
Born prior to 1946 75 million Americans
Patriotic, fiscally conservative, hard working, loyal to institutions, reverent to authority, hierarchal leadership, person to person networking, participates at the table, regular attendance.
Born 1946 – 1964 80 million Americans
Optimistic, idealistic, competitive, driven by a desire io leave their mark, has a love/hate relationship with authority, comfortable with leadership by consensus, person to person networking, participates at the table, regular attendance.
Born 1965 – 1981 46 million Americans
Independent, entrepreneurial, adaptive to change, skeptical of institutions, balanced work ethic, unimpressed with authority, leadership by competency, networks via email, participates by paying for access, networks for educational value, occasional attendance.
Born 1982 – 2000 76 million Americans
Techno-savvy, collaborative, realistic, judges institutions on their merits, optimistic, energetic towards work, respectful of authority, welcomes leadership by achievement, networks for the education value by email and web forums, participates by paying for access, attendance based on perception of the cause.
A senior lawyer lamented some of his problems with a Gen Xers in his office:
• An email to a client contained two typos
• A newly hired attorney showed up for a corporate client meeting in a rumpled shirt and no tie
• A first year associate called the CEO of the client company by his first name instead of Mr. So-and-So
The objections go both ways. Generation X associates have communicated these complaints about Traditionalist partners:
• A senior lawyer tells new associates he has an open door policy then tells his secretary he is not to be disturbed without an appointment
• A Baby Boomer insists the younger associates telephone the client with updates, when the client clearly prefers email
• A Millennial is told she’s not working hard enough when she’s been logging dozens of billable hours from home So what do the experiences and expectations of four generations of attorneys mean for the future of the profession? For the equally diverse citizenry that comes before the bench? What about voluntary membership organizations such as the MCBA? Does the profession and its supporting organizations stay the course? Does the profession lead the charge to change or passively watch change occur? Can the four generations come to the table or do we need to link them digitally to discuss these important questions?
The interesting realism here is that this experience is the MCBA’s experience. I implore you to look at your organization’s leadership. The MCBA has already begun to blaze new trails with a generationally diverse Board of Directors. The MCBA’s past is replete with vanguards of the profession, true characters that created legendary stories of social and professional nature and led us to where we are today. Today’s leaders face new and different challenges. Challenges that stem directly from a membership, and a profession that is generationally diverse and inherently demands different approaches, programs and services.
This is the first of a five part series. The next four parts will include interviews with attorneys that represent each of the four generations. I suspect we will all learn about each other, ourselves and perhaps about what will be the future of the MCBA and the profession.
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|Circuit Court Corner by Keith Beasley, Court Administrator
I am pleased to inform you that Paula Verticchio has been named Chief Judicial Aide following the retirement of Guilford Mellon. Paula is familiar to those who work in the Court building because she has been the Administrative Assistant to County Clerk/Register of Deeds Carmella Sabaugh. She is a Legal Assistant. She has extensive training and experience in computers. In particular, she has experience in collections, an important part of the Judicial Aide's role. Judicial Aide appoints counsel for indigent defendants in criminal cases, processes billings for counsel for indigent defendants, collects reimbursement from those with the ability to repay and handles miscellaneous tasks, such as appointment of language interpreters. Please join me in welcoming Paula.
I have written before about our request that indigent panel attorneys submit their defense billings to Judicial Aide at least a week before sentencing. The billings are needed to enable the Bench to address the extent to which an individual should be ordered to reimburse the taxpayers. Judicial Aide staff are preparing draft judgments for judges to utilize at sentencings. I think it is in the interests of your clients to have notice of the amount they may be ordered to repay and an opportunity to be heard, with your assistance, on the amount which will be ordered.
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"Nuclear Option" by Alan Polack
The term “nuclear option” has been bandied about quite often during 2005 in regard to ending filibusters of judicial appointments in Congress. Although the Senate has not employed that nuclear option, they have dropped the equivalent of it on senior citizens and elder law attorneys by passing the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. The Act has been kicked back to the House for final passage, but we expect that to happen in January. The Act contains the onerous restrictions on transfer assets that I described in the October Bar Briefs. I can’t believe members of Congress honestly understand the impact these restrictions will have on seniors. I don’t see how any senior can make any sizable gift to any family member after the effective date of the Act. The risk of losing eligibility for Medicaid for long term care at the time Medicaid is needed is too great. In addition to disqualification for gifts up to five years old at the time of application, the Act would reduce the size of gifts and eliminate serial gifting. This seems to be a bit of overkill since the first rule change should eliminate gifts altogether.
The Act also seems to eliminate immediate annuities as safe harbors by making the state “the remainder beneficiary in the first position for at least the total amount of medical assistance paid on behalf of the annuitant.” If the annuitant is the community spouse, does the state get paid for the sick spouse’s benefits?
The effective date of those provisions is questionable. States have a grace period during which they need not apply the new rules if new legislation is necessary to bring the state plan into compliance. In Michigan that could be sometime next year. Will the new rules apply to applications filed after the state effective date or the federal one? More later.
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"Oldest (Continuous Family) Law Firm in Macomb County"
In 1903, a young, ambitious Mount Clemens native son, Bert V. Nunneley, graduated from the University of Michigan Law School and returned to Mount Clemens, not only to practice law, but to coach the Mount Clemens High School football team. Bert had played football at Michigan and had played on the first high school team at Mount Clemens. He is an inaugural inductee in the Mount Clemens High School Hall of Fame. Bert practiced law in Mount Clemens until shortly before his death in 1972 at age 91. Among the highlights of Bert’s highly successful career was his argument before the United States Supreme Court in the famous “Portal to portal pay” case, involving the Mount Clemens Pottery Company and its employees’ union. This case was recognized as a Michigan Legal Milestone and a bronze plaque adorns the Circuit Court Building near the front steps. Over the years, Bert represented many prominent Macomb County citizens and entities, both corporate and municipal. Bert was an early President of the Macomb County Bar Association.
Bert married another Macomb County native, Mildred Sweitzer, formerly of Shelby Township. They had two sons, John H. Nunneley and William H. Nunneley. John graduated from the University of Michigan Law School in 1929 and commenced practice with his father. In 1946, John left the family firm to join Miller, Canfield, Paddock & Stone in Detroit. In time, John became the pre-eminent municipal bond attorney in the State of Michigan. John married Marjorie Converse and they had three children, Jean Nunneley died in 1955 and one year later, John married Gladys H. Hirt, widow of Paul S. Hirt, of whom more later. Gladys died in 1968 and John married Helena Stainton. John died in 1979 in retirement in San Clemente, California. His widow Helena survived until 2005. John was a founding Commissioner on the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority. The highlight of John’s legal career was the opinion letter he wrote attesting to the legality of the bond issue for the funding of the Mackinac Bridge, at the time an unprecedented issue of almost $100,000,000.00.
Bert’s second son, Bill graduated from the University of Michigan and Detroit College of Law. He joined his father and brother in the practice of law in 1933. During his distinguished career, he served as an Assistant Macomb County Prosecutor, Civil Service Commissioner and as attorney for numerous municipal entities, including Sterling Township, the Macomb County Road Commission and the Mount Clemens Public Schools. In addition to representing many prominent Macomb County Citizens, Bill earned a reputation as a “no holds barred” trial attorney, often representing insured defendants in civil litigation. Bill and his wife had one daughter, Susan Bettencourt, of San Francisco, California. Bill practiced law until shortly before his death in 1983. Bill is also a past President of the Macomb County Bar Association.
Meanwhile, in 1927, another Macomb County native, Paul S. Hirt, of Richmond, graduated from the University of Michigan Law School and returned to Macomb County to practice with the prestigious Mount Clemens law firm, Lungerhausen, Weeks, Lungerhausen & Neale. In the 1930’s Hugh H. Neale and Paul Hirt left the firm and formed Neale & Hirt. They conducted a commercial practice and also represented a number of municipal entities. Because of his roots in Richmond, Paul Hirt developed an extensive clientele of northern Macomb County farmers and businessmen. Shortly before his untimely death at age 50 in 1954, Paul S. Hirt was appointed the first Macomb County Civil Counsel, when the growth of the County mandated splitting the civil functions from the Prosecutor’s office. In 1950, George C. Steeh joined the firm.
In 1929, Paul S. Hirt married Gladys Hinmon of Dayton, Ohio. They had two sons, Paul Stanley Hirt, Jr. (Stan) and John Stewart Hirt (Jake), both of whom were born and grew up in Mount Clemens. Two years after Paul’s death in 1954, Glady’s married John H. Nunneley, thus linking two of the most prominent families in the Macomb County legal fraternity. This marriage continued for twelve years, until Glady’s death in 1968.
In 1959, Paul Stanley Hirt, Jr. graduated from University of Michigan Law School and returned to his home town to practice law with Neale & Steeh, the successor to his father’s law firm, Neale & Hirt. In 1961, Stan moved to Nunneley & Nunneley, where he joined Bert and Bill Nunneley in their practice, with offices located in what is now the Huntington Banks of Michigan Building at Cass Avenue and Main Street. For years, Stan represented insureds in civil litigation for a number of well known insurance companies. After Bill Nunneley’s death, Stan’s practice gravitated toward probate matters and an office practice, mainly in the estate planning and real estate areas. In 1966, the late Thomas D. Rinehart joined the firm, which became Nunneley, Hirt & Rinehart. In 1976, the firm moved to 33 North Avenue (now 65 Southbound Gratiot). Over the years, a number of younger lawyers joined the firm for various periods: Keith D. Cermak, Gregory A. Buss, James Disser, and John Stenton, among others.
While still in Law School, Stan married Ardis Tate of Erie, Pennsylvania. They have three children: Brian (Maria Florencia Attademo) of Bethesda MD; Jay (Erika Garcia) of Chicago; and Andra (Mike) Starshad of Glenview IL. The Hirts have three grandchildren, with a fourth expected in March 2006.
In 1989, Stan Hirt, as Stanley Hirt, P.C. was the sole survivor of the Nunneley firm. But help came along in 1990, when John F. MacArthur (son of Jean Nunneley MacArthur and her husband, Donald F. MacArthur, DDS, a popular Mount Clemens dentist) and Stan linked up as Hirt & MacArthur, P.C.
John F. MacArthur received his education in the Mount Clemens Public School system, Kalamazoo College (BA), University of Detroit Law School (JD) and Wayne State University (LLM in Taxation). After stints with with Glime, Daoust, Wilds, Rusing & Widlak, P.C., Touche Ross, Powers Chapman and O’Reilly Rancilio, John linked up with Stan Hirt in 1990, thus reuniting the Nunneley-Hirt-MacArthur families in the practice of law in Macomb County. Over the ensuing years, Stan and John enlarged the firm until it included nine lawyers by the end of 2003. Early in 2004, Stan and John left the firm of Hirt, MacArthur, Ruggirello, Velardo, Novara and Ver Beek, P.C. to continue their practice together at 50 Crocker Blvd. in Mount Clemens.
Lynn M. Maison, formerly of the office of the Friend of the Court for Macomb County, joined them in November of 2004. Lynn received her education at Wayne Sate University (BS with honors) and Wayne State University Law School (JD). She is a member of the Macomb County Bar Association and Macomb County Probate Bar Association.
With a history of 103 years of family practice of law, John, Stan and Lynn look forward to many more years of serving their clients, many of whom have been clients for the Nunneley-Hirt-MacArthur families since early in the 20th century.
Recently, the firm was recognized by the Historical Society of Michigan as a Michigan Centennial Business.
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"Lawrence J. Schloss" by Julie Gatti
It is a cold, damp January morning. The basement of my house is being waterproofed. The contractors have my front doors wide open, the heat is off and I am trying to write this article in my home office. The floor beneath me vibrates and a jackhammer’s incessant pounding drowns out the sound of the keyboard’s clicking. Occasionally, one worker yells to another over the hammering and says something that causes me to relive the regrettable moment just two months ago that I impulsively had new basement carpet installed.
If it sounds like I’m feeling sorry for myself, I’m not. The reality is, while the rest of my home is starting to feel like Norway, I have shut the doors to my office and plugged in a space heater that has the room comfortably warmed to 71. My iPod is charging. My coffee is hot. I have my Eddie Bauer down vest over my sweater just in case I catch a draft. I have my cell phone and home phone within reach. When my screen saver comes up, I see a picture of my two happy, healthy children hugging one another in their Sunday best in front of a Christmas tree. That picture was taken after a brunch with Santa Claus where we feasted on made-to-order omelettes and pasta dishes, prime rib, shrimp, fresh fruit and vegetables and, afterward, even though we were stuffed, headed for the dessert table to dip stuff in the chocolate fountain and make our own ice cream sundaes.
In the December 28, 2005 issue of the Metro Times, Jack Lessenberry asked how the homeless in Michigan were enjoying their holiday season. He dispelled the belief that the homeless are “old winos and other people who don’t take responsibility for their lives…the vast majority isn’t like that at all.” He depicted the homeless as simply the poor who are unable to attain affordable housing. “More than half of the homeless are families – whole families with no place to go. There are thousands of homeless children in Michigan…nearly half the population of homeless shelters in this state are kids…On any given night there are an average of 66,051 homeless people in the state.”
As you may know, this article profiles different attorneys each month who are giving back to society with their generous contributions of time, energy, money, resources and compassion. This month, the spotlight is on Lawrence J. Schloss. Early in December 2005, Larry recalls receiving an e-mail through the State Bar of Michigan urging its members to help feed the needy at various homeless shelters throughout the holiday season. While sitting in his law office, Larry jotted down the date, time and location.
The following Saturday afternoon, Larry was home planning his day. His children are grown, his wife was out Christmas shopping and Larry was pondering a day of petting the dog, watching football, and maybe hitting a few golf balls. A voice inside of him said, “No. Go.” And he headed for the Pontiac locale he had previously noted in his Palm Pilot.
Larry walked into the huge, industrial kitchen of the Pontiac Grace Center of Hope homeless shelter, a place he had passed so many times on the way to Oakland County Circuit Court. He saw the familiar face of retired Judge David Breck, who was slicing up a 30 pound ham. Not really knowing exactly what to do, Larry just jumped in to help serve a holiday feast of ham, yams and all the fixings to a group of thankful men, women and children of every age and background. He commented that the people seemed to consider themselves very lucky to be there.
After the meal was served, Larry was given a tour of the facility. He was impressed by its cleanliness and how well it has been maintained. The director, Kent Clark, explained that the shelter houses men in one area and women with their children in another. There is a chapel onsite. The residents are welcome for a maximum of 30 days and must have no criminal record. All have jobs and are to be up by 6:30 a.m. and back at the facility by 3:30 p.m. A local woman donated a huge widescreen television which on that afternoon, as in many other homes during the month of December, was dominated by men watching football.
Larry was a bit reluctant to be featured in this article and even asked if I would give him a pseudonym. He downplayed the “simple” act of taking the time to slop some food on a Saturday afternoon for a group of society’s less fortunate, stating that he was “only” there for three hours. If it’s just that simple and consumes such a small amount of time, why haven’t I done it? Larry admits that in those three short hours, he found what most of us call the “Christmas spirit.” He said that feeling that way doesn’t come from going to the mall and buying gifts, “It doesn’t come upon you until you do something for somebody.”
While Christmas, Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or whatever holidays you revere won’t come around again for many months, that “spirit” is something we can try to realize regardless of the season. I called Misty Authier, the Director of MATTS (Macomb’s Answer to Temporary Shelter), the Salvation Army’s homeless shelter in Warren. She indicates that monetary help is what is desired most. The need is great for funds to purchase bus tickets or provide other transportation to help residents get to work. Ms. Authier also indicated that many of the shelter’s inhabitants require legal assistance. The simple task of obtaining a State I.D. card is complicated when the resident has no permanent address. Many of the homeless women need help obtaining child support. If you are interested in helping, contributions made payable to “Salvation Army MATTS” will be earmarked for Macomb County’s homeless. You can contact MATTS at (586) 755-5191.
If only every problem was as simple to solve as a leaky basement.
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|From The YLS Chair
"The Young Lawyers Section Welcomes New Board Members" by Mark Pellecchia, YLS Chair
Congratulations! William Shelhart was appointed as director of the Young Lawyers section of the Macomb Bar Association. William Shelhart is a welcome addition to the board and I look forward to his energy and enthusiasm in the upcoming year. The appointment was made after reviewing all applications submitted to fill a vacancy. I appreciate those individuals that submitted applications for the position and encourage each individual to consider running for election in the spring. Anyone interested in running for election to the Young Lawyers Board of Directors must submit a letter of interest to the Macomb County Bar Association by noon on February 17, 2006 in order to be on the ballot.
The Young Lawyers Christmas party at Ernie’s Kingsmill welcomed a large gathering of people reminiscing and celebrating another holiday season into the wee hours of the night. The continued support of friends and colleagues fosters the continued growth of the Young Lawyers section of the Macomb County Bar Association. I would like to thank all the friends and sponsors of the event. The following Santa sponsors donated $500 for the event: Fischer, Garon, Hoyumpa, Rancilio P.C. and Rancilio & Associates.
The following Reindeer sponsors donated $250 for the event: James Brennan, Fraser & Souwedane, P.C., and Kirk & Huth, P.C.
The following Elf sponsors donated $100 for the event: Becker & Lundquist, P.L.C., Femminineo Attorneys, P.L.L.C.,Mark Haddad, Robbie Lang, Anne MacIntyre, Kistner, Troyanovich & Brady, P.C., Patrick McQueeney, Peter Peacock, Stephen T. Rabaut, Sean Taylor, Charles Trickey III, Vitale & Crosby, P.C., Mark Pellecchia, and Secret Santa.
The Macomb County Bar Association has reached its centennial birthday. The celebration is about the individual lawyers and non-lawyers that over the past one hundred years have devoted a part of themselves to assist a fine organization called the Macomb County Bar Association. It’s a time to remember the people that founded the organization, recognize the effect the organization has had on the public, and ponder the organizations role in the future. I am proud to say I am a member of the Macomb County Bar Association and I look forward to the events of the upcoming year to learn more about the heritage of this fine profession in Macomb County. I encourage all attorneys both young in age and young at heart to join the Macomb County Bar Association in its upcoming events commemorating the anniversary date.
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|From the Friend of the Court
"Administrative File 2004-2005 Amendment of MCR 3.211" by Lynn Davidson, Friend of the Court
The Supreme Court has required among other things, in Amendment of Rule 3.211 of the Michigan Court Rules, that a Uniform Support Order be used in all child support cases effective 1-1-06. An exception exists which exempts prosecuting attorneys and friends of the court who are required to use the Michigan Child Support Enforcement System, until the system can produce the Uniform Support Order or until January 1, 2007 whichever is earlier. Any child support, spousal support order or judgment must be prepared on the latest version of the Uniform Support Order. The Uniform Support Order can be downloaded from the State Court Administrator Office web site at:
Copies are also available at www.macombbar.org and at the MCBA Office.
You will note from visiting this site that there are different versions of the Uniform Support Order basically designed for child support or spousal support ordered through Friend of the Court or versions used in the opt out situation.
Also new, effective January 1, 2006 is the Domestic Relations Judgment Information Form, FOC 100. This form must be filed with the Macomb County Friend of the Court with the first order awarding child custody, parenting time or support and also must be submitted with a final proposed judgment awarding child custody, parenting time or child support. The Friend of the Court must be served with a copy and all parties must be served with a completed copy of the latest version of the Judgment Information Form unless the court orders otherwise. The moving party then must file a proof of service certifying that the Judgment Information Form has been provided to the Friend of the Court and unless the court orders otherwise, to all other parties, with the Clerk of the Court.
If the court modifies a proposed judgment or order before signing it, the party submitting the judgment or order must within seven days, submit a new Judgment Information Form of any changes in the information previously submitted. Prior to the court signing a judgment or order awarding child support or spousal support, the court must determine that the party submitting the judgment or order has certified that the Judgment Information Form (FOC 100) has been submitted to the Friend of the Court and is accompanied by a Uniform Support Order or the order explains why a Uniform Support Order is unnecessary. The Judgment Information Form (FOC 100) must be filed in addition to the verified statement required by MCR 3.206.
The web site for the Domestic Relations Judgment Information Form is:
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