The Michigan trial court system consists of Circuit Courts, District Courts, Probate Courts, Municipal 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.
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Michigan Circuit CourtsCircuit Courts have general jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases, but usually handle cases that are beyond the jurisdiction of other courts.
Criminal cases heard by the Circuit Courts include felony criminal cases and 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, abuse prevention, child protection and juvenile delinquency.
Circuit Courts also have a Friend of the Court office that handles domestic relations cases that involve minor children.
Michigan District CourtsDistrict Courts have limited jurisdiction over certain types of civil and criminal cases.
Criminal cases heard by District Courts include misdemeanor criminal cases, preliminary hearings for felony criminal cases 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 Conciliation division that is available for most general civil cases involving claims for less than $3000, if the parties agree to use the simplified procedure of Small Claims Court.
Michigan Probate CourtsProbate Courts have limited jurisdiction over probate cases and some juvenile matters.
Cases heard by Probate Courts include the probate of wills, administration of estates, trusts, guardianships, conservatorships, and the care and protection of people with mental illness or developmental delay.
Probate Courts may have jurisdiction over some juvenile delinquency cases.
Michigan Municipal CourtsMunicipal Courts have limited jurisdiction over certain types of civil and criminal cases.
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 limited amounts of money in dispute, generally up to $5000, but limits may vary by court. A Municipal Court may have a Conciliation division for certain types of small claims.
Michigan Court of ClaimsThe Court of Claims has exclusive jurisdiction over civil cases against the State of Michigan or one of its departments, if the amount in dispute is more than $1000 and if a Circuit Court does not otherwise have jurisdiction.
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.
Where to find court cases in MichiganThe chart below gives general information on the types of cases heard in each type of court in Michigan.
Note: Some courts in Michigan are not included in the chart above. Please use the following links for descriptions and types of cases heard:
Court of Claims