Overview of Michigan Courts
In order to find Michigan court records, it's helpful to understand how the state court system works. Each state varies and we've compiled this information to help your search. You can also start your search by going directly to courts by county.
The Michigan trial court system consists of Circuit Courts, District Courts, Probate Courts, Municipal Courts, Concurrent Jurisdiction and Unified Trial Courts, and Court of Claims.
Circuit Courts have general jurisdiction over all cases, but usually only handle cases that are beyond the jurisdiction of other courts. District Courts, Probate Courts and Municipal Courts have limited jurisdiction over certain types of cases. The Court of Claims has limited jurisdiction over certain types of civil cases against the State of Michigan or one of its departments.
Criminal cases heard by the Circuit Courts include felonies, lesser-included offenses, and juvenile delinquency.
Civil cases heard by Circuit Courts include general civil cases with more than $25,000 in dispute, equity cases, appeals of administrative agency decisions, domestic relations, and juvenile cases.
Each Circuit Court has a Family Division that hears domestic relations and juvenile cases. Cases heard by the Family Division include divorce, paternity, adoption, name changes, abuse prevention, child protection, and juvenile delinquency. Family Divisions have a Friend of the Court office that assists the court and parties with custody, support, and parenting issues in divorce cases involving minor children.
Some juvenile, adoption, and name change cases were formerly under the jurisdiction of Probate Courts. In some counties, files for these case types are still maintained in the Probate Court office. In some counties a Probate department of Family Division - separate from the Probate Court proper - handles these case types.
Criminal cases heard by District Courts include misdemeanors, preliminary hearings for felonies, and most traffic violations.
Civil cases heard by District Courts include general civil cases with less than $25,000 in dispute, and most landlord-tenant cases.
Each District Court has a Small Claims Division that is available for most general civil cases involving claims of $5000 or less, if the parties agree to use its simplified procedure.
Cases heard by Probate Courts include the probate of wills, administration of estates and trusts, guardianships, conservatorships, adoptions, name changes, and the care and protection of people with mental or physical impairment.
Some juvenile, adoption, and name change cases were formerly under the jurisdiction of Probate Court, but are now under the jurisdiction for Circuit Court Family Division. In some counties, files for these case types are still maintained in the Probate Court office. In some counties a Probate department of Family Division - separate from the Probate Court proper - handles these case types.
Criminal cases heard by Municipal Courts include misdemeanor criminal cases, some traffic and ordinance violations, and preliminary hearings for felony criminal cases.
Municipal Courts handle some general civil cases with up to $3,000 in dispute, and some landlord-tenant cases.
Berrien, Iron, Isabella, Lake, and Washtenaw Counties have Unified Trial Courts in which a single Trial Court is made up of Divisions; these Divisions may retain the names and jurisdictions of the traditional county court structures (Circuit, District, and Probate Divisions in Iron County), or may be based on case types (Civil, Criminal, and Family Divisions in Berrien County).
The Court of Claims handles cases for the entire state but operates out of the 30th Circuit Court in Ingham County.
The State Administrative Board handles cases involving disputes for less than $1000 against the State of Michigan or one of its departments.
|Case Type||Court Type|
|Civil||Circuit Courts||District Courts||Probate Courts||Municipal Courts|
|General Civil - Unlimited|
|General Civil - Limited|
|Foreclosures and Liens|
|Real Estate Title and Boundary|
|Landlord / Tenant|
|Protection, No Contact, and Restraining Orders|
|Administrative Agency Appeals|
|Criminal||Circuit Courts||District Courts||Probate Courts||Municipal Courts|
|Felony Preliminary Hearings|
|Traffic and Infractions|
|Domestic Relations||Circuit Courts||District Courts||Probate Courts||Municipal Courts|
|Child Custody and Visitation|
|Domestic Violence Protection Order|
|Juvenile||Circuit Courts||District Courts||Probate Courts||Municipal Courts|
|Child Abuse and Neglect|
|Termination of Parental Rights|
|Children in Need of Supervision|
|Mental Health||Circuit Courts||District Courts||Probate Courts||Municipal Courts|
|Other Mental Health Cases|
|Probate||Circuit Courts||District Courts||Probate Courts||Municipal Courts|
|Wills & Estates|
|Guardianships and Conservatorships|