Caryn VanderHeuvel has served as an Attorney Referee at the St. Clair County Friend of Court since 2010. In her role as referee, she conducts hearings with parties in divorce, handles custody and child support cases, and makes recommendations to the Family Court Judges on those issues. She appears before the Circuit Court on a weekly basis to resolve disputed matters.
She has conducted in excess of 10,000 hearings on domestic issues, including child custody, parenting time, and child support. To prepare, she takes testimony, considers evidence, and applies current law to the facts of each case.
While all of those issues are difficult challenges for all of the parties involved, VanderHeuvel is proud of the fact that 90 percent of the resolutions she proposes are accepted by the parties without objection.
“Consequences are an important part of being a member of a community, and they benefit everyone. However, as both a parent and in my role at work, I have also come to understand that each individual may be facing different struggles, all of which should be taken into consideration when assigning consequences. A court should assign consequences with understanding and compassion.”Caryn VanderHeuvel, Candidate, 72nd District Judge
Prior to her work with the FOC, VanderHeuvel was employed as a Research Attorney and Law Clerk for the 31st Circuit Court from 1998 to 1999 and 2000 to 2010. In her role as clerk, VanderHeuvel prepared weekly dockets, researched legal issues, both criminal and civil, and drafted legal opinions for entry by the Court.
VanderHeuvel practiced law from 1999 through 2005, focusing on family law and guardianships for disabled adults. While attending law school, VanderHeuvel was employed as an elementary school teacher for four years, teaching first grade in Harvey and Crete, Illinois. While attending SC4, VanderHeuvel was employed with People’s Bank of Port Huron, London’s Dairy and the ARC.
VanderHeuvel was born in Port Huron to Tom and Joann (Delmore) Tomlinson, the third of five children, including older brothers John and Greg, and younger sisters Margaret and Nancy. VanderHeuvel grew up in Port Huron and attended Port Huron Schools including Garfield Elementary, Holland Woods Middle School and Port Huron Northern High School.
She graduated from Port Huron Northern in 1987 and attended St. Clair County Community College for three semesters before transferring to University of Michigan Ann Arbor and earning a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education in 1991.
After graduation, VanderHeuvel married Mark VanderHeuvel of Fort Gratiot, and they relocated to Illinois. While teaching full-time, VanderHeuvel enrolled in night classes at DePaul University law school. Following the birth of their first child, John, in 1995, the VanderHeuvels returned to St. Clair County. She transferred to University of Detroit School of Law and completed her Juris Doctor degree, with honors, in 1997.
Caryn and Mark, her husband of 28 years, live in Fort Gratiot, where they have raised their five children: John (24), Sarah (22), Anna (19), Tessa (16) and Luke (13).
- Board Member: United Way of St. Clair County
- Member: St. Clair County Bar Association
- Former Board Member: St. Clair County Bar Association
- Member: Referee Association of Michigan
- Former Catechist: St. Mary’s Parish, Port Huron
- Board Member: Port Huron Northern Sports Boosters
- Coach: AYSO
- Coach: Math Olympiad
- Troop Leader: Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan
- Keewahdin PTA: Officer, Board Member, and Volunteer
VanderHeuvel has also volunteered for a number of other community organizations, including the March of Dimes, the Port Huron Hospital (now McLaren Port Huron) Foundation, the Child Abuse and Neglect Council, and the YMCA.