Title: Attorney Referee
Department: Friend of Court Updated: 08/2019
Division: Friend of Court FLSA Status: Exempt
Bargaining Unit: FOC Supervisors Wage Range: Not Available

Under the general supervision of the Friend of the Court and direct supervision of Deputy Friend of the Court.  Serves as a domestic relations referee including conducting of hearings, taking testimony and offers of evidence, performs legal research and preparing and approving court orders.


·         Conducts hearings, including emergency hearings when required, examines testimony and evidence, prepares and reviews orders, drafts opinions and conducts legal research when required. 

·         Conducts hearings with parties on pre and post judgment matters of custody, parenting time, child support, medical support, child care, change of domicile, change of legal residence. 

·         Makes findings and recommendations, finalizes in orders and enters with the court.

·         Conducts hearings to determine whether payers of support are in compliance with a court order and to determine if violations of court orders have occurred. 

·         Makes findings and recommendation on contempt proceedings and prepares orders to be entered with the court. 

·         Prepares petitions and orders subsequent to review of files and/or instruction of the court and ensures compliance with the law and court policy. 

·         Tracks and monitors compliance with case outcomes and takes additional action when required.

·         Appears in court on Friend of the Court motions, orders to show cause, bench warrant arraignments, and other enforcement actions to represent the Friend of the Court. 

·         Presents testimony on the matter and makes recommendations on possible sanctions.

·         Consults with judges, referees, probation officers, case workers, CPS workers, counselors and other representatives on case circumstances, outcomes and compliance.

·         Manages referee hearing docket/calendar and coordinates case flow to ensure hearings are timely scheduled. 

·         Assists parties in reaching an agreement, when warranted. 

·         Refers cases to mediation as necessary.  Accepts stipulated agreements and settlements on the record when agreement complies with the law. 

·         Researches, analyzes and remains abreast of statutes, court rules and case law related to areas of the law that impact Friend of Court operations. 

·         At the direction of the Friend of the Court, recommends new or revised policies and procedures to ensure compliance with applicable statutes and court rules. 

·         Assists with development and program management of the Especially for Parents class. 

·         Coordinates intergovernmental activities for registration and enforcement and refers to the JDS.

·         Assists staff with more difficult or complex cases as needed. 

·         Coordinates and directs the activities of Legal Administrative Assistant, including review and approval of proposed court orders drafted consistent with referee’s findings. 

·         Serves as supervisor to assigned employees with daily oversight. 

·         Provides guidance and direction, performance evaluations, work plans, time management, attendance, work production and other performance issues. 

·         Approves leave requests.

·         Assists with and makes recommendations to the friend of the Court on hiring, work assignments, training, performance evaluation, promotions, discipline and termination. 

·         Prepares pleadings, briefs, motions, memoranda and orders, as required.

·         Handles special legal assignments with the family court division, as required.

·         Coordinates and directs the activities of the assigned legal administrative assistant, including review of case progress, approval of pleadings and final orders.

·         Performs other duties, as required.



Works under the general supervision of the Friend of the Court and direct supervision of the Deputy Friend of the Court. 


Attorney Referees supervise the legal administrative assistant and the Early Intervention Coordinator.  Directly participates in promotion, hiring, disciplinary actions and other supervisory functions as required by the Friend of the Court.  Supervision includes, but is not limited to, daily oversight of the assigned team.  Delegating responsibilities, tasks and work flow to subordinate employees, assisting subordinate employees with case management decisions when necessary, and to address issues such as time management, attendance, work production and other performance issues. 


·         Juris Doctorate degree from a regionally accredited law school; a member in good standing in the State Bar of Michigan; practicing experience and/or coursework in domestic relations.

·         Two (2) years of significant work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required.

·         Knowledge of domestic law, ancillary law as it relates to domestic cases, court policies and procedures, preparing and interpreting legal documents, and applicable local, state and federal laws, rules and regulations.

·         Knowledge and skill in analyzing and researching statutes, case law and interpreting legal documents and interpreting evidence. 

·         Knowledge of and interpret applicable federal, state and local regulations. Develop, apply and explain department and County procedure and policies. Plan and coordinate work staff activities, prioritize, instruct, set deadlines, objectives, measure success, and make recommendations and resolve issues. Methods of research, planning, conducting and implementing major studies or projects. Design and recommend new forms, reports or procedures. Ability to understand and work in complex data processing system, analyze data and exercise sound financial judgment. Analyze administrative problems, evaluate alternatives and implement sound solutions. Prepare and present reports, speeches or training programs to groups. Provide training and guidance in handling difficult or complex problems or resolving escalated complaints or disputes. Work independently with limited direct supervision. Coordinate activities with other departments.

·         Ability to communicate effectively and efficiently with management, co-workers and clients; obtain and communicate accurate information; apply common sense understanding to complex instructions and respond accordingly;  communicate complex ideas through graphs, charts, presentations, reports or other professional correspondence.    

·         Knowledge or understanding of basic administrative tasks: operate standard office equipment; document management; prepare and maintain records, various correspondences and reports; answer general inquiries and refer as necessary; answer telephone calls, process mail, order supplies/equipment; prepare meeting agendas, attend meetings, record/transcribe/distribute minutes; entering, transcribing, recording, storing or maintaining information in written or electronic form with speed and accuracy; maintain calendars, arrange meetings, schedule rooms and equipment as necessary.                           

·         Writing, reading, mathematical principles; proficient computer skills-Microsoft Office Suite, Outlook; exercise sound judgment and decision making in accordance with policies and procedures; ability to research and problem solve independently; knowledge of County operations and functions; ability to prioritize and time manage; handle stressful situations, provide effective and friendly customer service; support the County's mission and values; ability to think critically where necessary. 



·         Ability to demonstrate predictable, reliable, and timely attendance.                

·         Ability to read, write & communicate in English; follow written and verbal instruction and understand basic mathematics and figure checking.              

·         Ability to interpret and apply procedures, rules, technical information, instructions, manuals to complete tasks accurately and on schedule.                                     

·         Ability to learn from directions, observations, and mistakes; and apply procedures using good judgment.                                                                        

·         Ability to use discretion and maintain sensitive and confidential information.     

·         Ability to work independently or part of a team; ability to interact appropriately with others such as County officials, employees, vendors and the general public.

·         Ability to work under supervision, receiving instructions/feedback, coaching/counseling and/or action/discipline.                                             

·         Adaptability to change in the work environment, managing competing demands and ability to deal with frequent changes, delays or unexpected events.

·         Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services including customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction

·         Proficient skills using Microsoft Office programs including, but not limited to: Word, Excel, Access, and Outlook required.  Proficiency may be tested.      

  • Prior to starting employment, the candidate must complete a satisfactory background check.  The background check is understood to encompass all forms of pre-employment screening, including but not limited to: drug screen, physical, criminal background, driving record, sex offender registry, education, training and licensing verification, employment history, credit check, and professional and personal references.
  • Must possess a valid State of Michigan operator license and maintain this license throughout employment in this position.
  • Must complete requirements of background check as required under the IV-D cooperative reimbursement program.

The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job with or without accommodations.  Reasonable accommodations will be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.


While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to:

·         Speak to others to convey information effectively.

·         Read, interpret and understand procedures, rules, technical information, instructions and manuals.

·         Hear and understand information presented through spoken words and sentences.

·         Specific vision requirement includes close vision, distance vision, color and depth perception.

·         Use hands to operate a computer, handle materials and operate equipment.

·         Push or pull carts, reach with hands and arms forward, above and below shoulder level.

·         Lift, move or carry objects, equipment and supplies weighing up to 25 pounds.

·         Sit, bend, stoop, crouch, crawl and kneel in an ergonomically correct manner.

·         Stand and walk, climb stairs.

·         Normal office hours are from 8:00 a.m. through 4:30 p.m.

·         Generally works in a normal office environment.

·         The noise level in the work environment is moderate with many interruptions.


Disclaimer: The statements contained in this job description are intended to describe the general nature and level of work being performed by individuals assigned to this position.  They are not to be construed as an exhaustive list of all job requirements or duties performed.  The job description does not constitute an employment agreement between the employer and employee and is subject to change by the employer as the needs of the employer and requirements of the job change.




It is the policy of St. Clair County not to discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, marital status, disability that does not prevent performing essential job functions or because he or she is a protected veteran.