Rule 3.218 Friend of the Court Records; Access

(A) General. Friend of the court records are not subject to a subpoena issued under these Michigan Court Rules. Unless another rule specifically provides for the protection or release of friend of the court records, this rule governs. When used in this subrule, unless the context indicates otherwise,

(1) “records” means any case-specific information the friend of the court office maintains in any media;

(2) “access” means inspection of records, obtaining copies of records upon receipt of payment for costs of reproduction, and oral transmission by staff of information contained in friend of the court records;

(3) “confidential information” means

(a) staff notes;

(b) any confidential information from the Department of Human Services child protective services unit or information included in any reports to protective services from a friend of the court office;

(c) records from alternative dispute resolution processes, including the confidentiality of mediation records as defined in MCR 2.412;

(d) communications from minors;

(e) friend of the court grievances filed by the opposing party and the responses;

(f) any information when a court order prohibits its releaser;

(g) except as provided in MCR 3.219, any information for which a privilege could be claimed, or that was provided by a governmental agency subject to the express written condition that it remain confidential; and

(h) all information classified as confidential by the laws and regulations of title IV, part D of the Social Security Act, 42 USC 651 et seq. 

   (4)   Reference to an agency, office, officer, or capacity includes an employee or contractor working within that agency or office, or an employee or caseworker acting on behalf of that office or working in the capacity referred to.

   (5)   “Governmental agency” means any entity exercising constitutional, legislative, executive, or judicial authority, when providing benefits or services.

(B) A friend of the court office must provide access to nonconfidential records to the following:

   (1) A party; third-party custodian; guardian or conservator; guardian ad litem or counsel for a minor; lawyer-guardian ad litem; an attorney of record; and the personal representative of the estate of a party.

   The friend of the court may honor a request from a person identified in this paragraph to release information to a governmental agency providing services to that individual, or before which an application for services is pending.

   (2)   An officer in the Judge Advocate General’s office in any branch of the United States military, if the request is made on behalf of a service member on active duty otherwise identified in this subrule.

(C) Unless the release is otherwise prohibited by law, a friend of the court office must provide access to all nonconfidential and confidential records to the following:

(1) Other agencies and individuals as necessary for the friend of the court to implement the state’s plan under Title IV, Part D of the Social Security Act, 42 USC 651 et seq. or as required by the court, state law, or regulation that is consistent with this state’s IV-D plan.

(2)   The Department of Human Services, as necessary to report suspected abuse or neglect or to allow the Department of Human Services to investigate or provide services to a party or child in the case.

(3)   Other agencies that provide services under Title IV, part D of the Social Security Act, 42 USC 651 et seq.

(4)   Auditors from state and federal agencies, as required to perform their audit functions with respect to a friend of the court matter.

(5)   Corrections, parole, or probation officers, when, in the opinion of the friend of the court, access would assist the office in enforcing a provision of a custody, parenting time, or support order.

(6)   Michigan law enforcement personnel who are conducting a civil or criminal investigation related directly to a friend of the court matter, and to federal law enforcement officers pursuant to a federal subpoena in a criminal or civil investigation.

(D) A citizen advisory committee established under the Friend of the Court Act, MCL 552.501 et seq. 

   (1)   shall be given access to a grievance filed with the friend of the court, and to information related to the case, other than confidential information.

   (2)   may be given access to confidential information related to a grievance if the court so orders, upon demonstration by the committee that the information is necessary to the performance of its duties and that the release will not impair the rights of a party or the well-being of a child involved in the case.

When a citizen advisory committee requests information that may be confidential, the friend of the court shall notify the parties of the request and that they have 14 days from the date the notice was mailed to file a written response with the court.

If the court grants access to the information, it may impose such terms and conditions as it determines are appropriate to protect the rights of a party of the well-being of a child.

 (E) A friend of the court office may refuse to provide access to a record in the friend of the court file if the friend of the court did not create or author the record. On those occasions, the requestor may request access from the person or entity that created the record.

(F) Any person who is denied access to friend of the court records or confidential information may file a motion for an order of access with the judge assigned to the case or, if none, the chief judge.

(G) A court, by administrative order adopted pursuant to MCR 8.112(B), may make reasonable regulations necessary to protect friend of the court records and to prevent excessive and unreasonable interference with the discharge of friend of the court functions.