Referee Hearings

Referee Hearings

A referee is an attorney who holds hearings, examines witnesses, and makes recommendations to a judge. The chief judge of a circuit court may appoint an attorney to serve as a referee to hear testimony and arguments on any domestic relations issue, except modifications of spousal support. In Livingston County, many domestic relations motions are first heard by a referee.


A referee hearing differs from a hearing before a judge. A referee’s decision is only a recommendation to the judge. A referee’s recommendation will become a court order only if neither party files an objection within specific time limits, as prescribed by the Michigan Court Rules. A party who disagrees with a referee’s recommendation may request a new (de novo) hearing before the judge assigned to the case. The objection and request for a hearing must be in writing and be filed with the circuit court clerk within 21 days after the referee recommendation is completed. At the conclusion of the hearing before the judge, an order will be entered.


Referee hearings may be held at the Law Center in hearing rooms at the Friend of the Court (FOC) Office located at: 210 S. Highlander Way, Howell, MI 48843 or may be conducted using the Zoom video conferencing application. Please refer to your notice of hearing for further information.  Please note that proper attire is required pursuant to the Courthouse Decorum Local Administrative Order.  


If you need to request to adjourn a referee hearing, please use the form:

Adjournment of Referee Hearing


If you are requesting to participate in the referee hearing by telephone, please use the form:

Request for Telephonic Hearing

If you are requesting to have an FOC custody, parenting time, or support investigator testify at the referee hearing, please see the Local Administrative Order for Subpoenas of FOC Investigators.