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19th Judicial Circuit Court

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S.M.I.L.E. – Start Making It Livable for Everyone(A.K.A. Helping Children Cope)

            Start Making It Livable for Everyone is an education program for separating and/or divorcing parents with minor children.  The video addresses developmental issues, creating a conflict free zone by understanding the do’s and don’ts of co-parenting.  It also addresses positive communication when conflict exists.  It takes time, energy and a plan to get your family through this process.  The program helps parents identify issues and how to resolve those issues keeping the best interests of your child in focus.  

The S.M.I.L.E. handbook will be available on this Web Page.

           Your participation in this program is REQUIRED pursuant to a court order.    You can attend in person or complete the on-line program.  Program dates for the in-person participation are set forth below. To complete the on-line program, you must watch the S.M.I.L.E. video posted below, and complete and submit a Certificate of Completion(also available below) to the Friend of the Court office. 


A link to the Helping Children Cope Certificate of Completion Form is available by clicking here: Helping Children Cope Completion Form


2019 Helping Children Cope Program Dates:      

May 13th                        Benzie County
June 3rd                        Manistee County
July 1st                           Benzie County
August 5th                  Manistee County
September 9th         Benzie County
October 7th                Manistee County
November 4th          Benzie County
December 2nd          Manistee County

All dates begin at 3:00 p.m. You must call your local F.O.C. office to register for the program as there is limited space in each session.


The parties are ordered to meet with the Friend of the Court caseworker to discuss Custody, parenting time and child support matters.  If the parties reach an agreement on anything regarding Custody, Support and Parenting time, the agreement will be reduced to a Temporary Order of the Court.   Those matters that the parties could not agree to will be scheduled before the Circuit Court Referee for a hearing and Recommendation to establish a temporary Order.

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