Personal Protection - Self Help
The following information will take you through the steps necessary in a personal protection matter. In order to receive the protection you seek, you must
follow the instructions. If you fail to follow the required steps, the order you get from the court could be ineffective and you could remain unprotected. The instructions in this Self-Help Center apply generally to all the circuit courts, but there can be differences in local practice. For information about these local practices, contact the court or the county clerk in the county where you are going to file your petition. Online help is also available from Michigan Legal Help
to prepare forms through an automated interview process and to provide toolkits with legal articles, FAQs, procedure, and other resources.
Using Court Forms
Court forms are available for use in proceedings for personal protection. These forms follow the procedures stated in the Michigan Compiled Laws and Michigan Court Rules and can be used without the assistance of an attorney. Instructions for completing some of the forms is available on this website.
When completing a form online, you must print the number of copies you will need for filing with the court and serving on the parties. See the upper right-hand corner of each form for this information. If you do not provide the court with the correct number of copies, the court might reject the form for nonconformance under the authority of Michigan Court Rule 8.119(C). Unless specifically required by court rule or statute, the court is not responsible for making copies of forms for you.
How to Begin a Personal Protection Action
To start the action, you (the petitioner) must file a "petition form" with the county clerk of the circuit court. You can go to any county clerk's office and ask for a personal protection order packet, or you can get the forms you need from this Self-Help Center. Instructions for completing the forms are provided. If you are in immediate danger, make sure you ask the court for an "ex parte" order by checking the "ex parte" box on the form. Then fill out the "order form." "Ex parte" means the order is entered without a hearing and without prior notice to the other person.
Your petition (and the order if you ask for an "ex parte" order) can be filed in the circuit court of any county in Michigan. There is no cost for filing the petition; however, there will be a cost for serving the petition and order (postage or process service fees) on the person you want restrained (respondent). Ask the court for this information and be sure to bring this amount with you when you file your petition.
Some of the things you may need before you fill out the petition include: a copy of your complaint for divorce, annulment, or separate maintenance; copies of custody orders if there are any; and the cost of serving papers on the restrained person.
If you have notarized written statements from witnesses and copies of supporting documents or materials from police, doctors, or social agencies, bring at least three copies of each with you when you file your petition with the court. This information may be important to the judge in making a decision but is not necessary for the judge to enter an order.
You must have basic information about the respondent (the person to be restrained), such as name, address, place of employment, date of birth, physical description, etc., or the court cannot issue an order. At a minimum, you must have the name, race, sex, and date of birth of the respondent.
When a Hearing is Required
A hearing is required on your petition for personal protection if you do not request an "ex parte" order, or if the judge will not sign an "ex parte" order. If a hearing is required, you must complete the Notice of Hearing, form CC 381
. Ask the county clerk for a hearing date and follow the instructions on the form. See general information about hearings.
When an Order is Signed
If you asked for an "ex parte" order, the county clerk will tell you what you need to do to get the order signed and where and when to pick up the signed order. If a hearing is required, you will be provided with the signed order after the hearing.
The personal protection order will go into effect as soon as the judge signs it. The county clerk's office is responsible for providing a copy of the order to the local police agency so that it can immediately be entered into the Law Enforcement Information Network (LEIN). The county clerk will also give you copies to take to your local law enforcement agency if you want to do so.
Serving the Petition and Order
By law, you must serve the petition and order on the respondent, even though the order is effective without service as soon as it is signed. Follow the instructions on the form to make sure you serve the court papers in the required way. If you do not serve the respondent with a copy of the order, you may have trouble getting local law enforcement to enforce the order by arresting the respondent.
If You are Served with or Notified of an Order
If you are served with or notified of a personal protection order against you, you must obey the order. If you don't obey the order, you can be arrested for violating the order, or the petitioner can file a motion to order you into court to explain why you shouldn't be held in contempt for violating the order. If you are found guilty of violating a personal protection order in Michigan, you will be sentenced to spend up to 93 days in jail and may be fined up to $500.00.
Enforcing the Order
A personal protection order is enforceable anywhere in Michigan by any law enforcement agency as soon as it is signed by the judge. It can also be enforced by another state, Indian tribe, or territory of the United States once it is served on the respondent.
If the respondent violates a personal protection order anywhere in Michigan and the respondent has been notified of the order, either orally or by formal service, law enforcement can arrest the respondent, or you can file a motion for a court hearing concerning a violation of the order.
If the respondent is arrested, the court will set a date, time, and place for a hearing on the charges against the respondent to be held within 72 hours after the arrest. The court or prosecutor is responsible for giving you notice of this hearing. If you are not notified within 24 hours of the arrest, contact the court. If a hearing is not held within 72 hours, the respondent may be released from jail after posting bond until the hearing is held.
If the respondent is not arrested and you believe the respondent violated the order, you can file a motion to show cause, form CC 382
. Follow the instructions on the form. You cannot file a motion to show cause for violating a personal protection order until you have proof that the respondent was served with or notified of the order.
If the respondent violates a personal protection order in some place other than Michigan, the respondent is subject to the enforcement remedies and penalties of that other state, Indian tribe, or territory.
Modifying, Extending, or Terminating the Order