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Trial Courts

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Michigan has three trial courts—circuit, district, and probate.  See Administration for information about the operations, policy, and procedures of the trial courts.


Circuit Court

The circuit court is the trial court with the broadest powers in Michigan. In general, the circuit court handles all civil cases with claims of more than $25,000 and all felony criminal cases (cases where the accused, if found guilty, could be sent to prison). The family division of circuit court handles all cases regarding divorce, paternity, adoptions, personal protection actions, emancipation of minors, treatment and testing of infectious disease, safe delivery of newborns, name changes, juvenile offenses and delinquency, juvenile guardianship, and child abuse and neglect. In addition, the circuit court hears cases appealed from the other trial courts or from administrative agencies.  The friend of the court office is part of the family division of the circuit court and handles domestic relations cases where minor children are involved.
In addition, there is a Court of Claims for filing cases against the State of Michigan in which a claim for money damages is made. As of November 12, 2013, the Court of Claims is part of the Michigan Court of Appeals. The Court of Claims is a specialized court that handles only claims over $1,000 filed against the State of Michigan or one of its departments.
There are 57 circuit courts in Michigan. Circuit court judges are elected for six-year terms.

District Court

The district court is often called the people's court. More people have contact with the district court than any other court. The district court handles most traffic violations, all civil cases with claims up to $25,000, landlord-tenant matters, most traffic tickets, and all misdemeanor criminal cases (generally, cases where the accused, if found guilty, cannot be sentenced to more than one year in jail). In addition, small claims cases are heard by a division of the district court. In Michigan, a few municipalities have chosen to retain a municipal court rather than create a district court. The municipal courts have limited powers and are located in Grosse Pointe, Grosse Pointe Farms, Grosse Pointe Park, and Grosse Point Shores/Grosse Pointe Woods.
There are approximately 100 district courts in Michigan. District court judges are elected for six-year terms.

Probate Court

The probate court handles wills, administers estates and trusts, appoints guardians and conservators, and orders treatment for mentally ill and developmentally disabled persons.
There are 78 probate courts in Michigan; probate judges are elected for six-year terms.

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Trial Court Directories


Map of Counties in Each Region


Trial Court Judgeships by Court Type


Courts by County and District Court Detail


Certification Programs

Information about required and optional certification for court reporters, foreign language interpreters, magistrates, and juvenile probation officers.

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Trial ​Courts with Online Services


Listing of courts that provide some sort of online services, such as:

  • Accept Online Payments
  • Provide Online Access to Records
  • Provide Online Docket
  • Accept Online Filings
  • Accept FAX filings

Until this feature is available, you may search courts individually for these services at the Trial Court Directories.


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Content Type: MSC Layout
Version: 28.0
Created at 7/26/2012 11:47 AM by COURT\ElGaroushiA
Last modified at 2/17/2015 12:15 PM by COURT\MarksD