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Civil Court FAQs

Q: How do I file a Small Claim?

First read the The Small Claims Booklet, complete the form according to the instructions attached to the form, and then file the claim with court.

Q: How do I stop a garnishment against my wages?

Complete the form "Motion for Installment Payments". There is a 14-day waiting period after the motion is mailed. If there are no objections, the order is entered on the 15th day and the garnishment is suspended. If there is an objection filed, you may have to come to court for a hearing on your motion.  http://courts.michigan.gov/scao/courtforms/

Q: How do I collect a judgement that was entered in my favor?

The steps are outlined in the Small Claims Booklet. These instructions apply to any money judgment that is entered in the Civil Division of the Trial Court, whether it is Small Claims, Landlord Tenant, or General Civil.

Q: An officer just served a Summons and Complaint on me. What do I do?

Read #2 on the front of the Summons. An "Answer" to the Summons and Complaint must be filed with the Civil Division of the Court within 21 days of the date you were served. You must also serve a copy of your Answer on the opposing party/attorney.

Q: How do I transfer a vehicle title when the title holder has been convicted under the Repeat Offender Law?

Before you file an Ex Parte Petition with the Court, Petitioner and Transferee will need to:

  1. Complete #4 on the Petition form with sufficiently detailed reasons for the request to transfer title, including place of employment if transferee is employed, and disclosure of any other vehicles in the family.
  2. Provide a copy of the title showing any liens with the name of the lienholder on the title.
  3. If there is a lien on the title you must have written approval from the lienholder allowing the transfer.
  4. Provide a copy of both petitioner's and transferee's driving record obtained from the Secretary of State Office.
After your Ex Parte Order is entered the Transferee will need to give the Secretary of States Office a certified copy of this order.

FORM A: Ex Parte Petition and Order (one vehicle)
FORM B: Ex Parte Petition and Order (two vehicles)

Q: Where can I find additional court-related forms on line?

Many commonly used court forms may be found at:  http://courts.michigan.gov/scao/courtforms/

Q: What is the difference between a certificate of mailing and certified mail?

  • A certificate of mailing is a receipt that provides proof of the date your mail was given to the post office for mailing.
  • Certified mail requires a signature from the tenant/recipient. If the tenant does not sign for the certified mail, the Court may not consider the tenant properly served.

Q: I have received a summons and complaint. What can I do?

You can file an answer. If you were served personally, you have 21 days to file an answer. If you were served by mail or outside the State of Michigan, you have 28 days to file an answer.

Q: What happens if I do not file an answer to a summons and complaint?

If you do not file an answer, the plaintiff can file a Default Judgment against you. A Default Judgment is a judgment in favor of one party based on the other party’s failure to take action. For example, the plaintiff may request a default against a defendant because the defendant does not respond to a summons or because the defendant failed to appear.

Q: I have a Judgment against me. How much do I owe?

The Court does not keep account of money owed from Civil Judgments. Please contact the Plaintiff/Plaintiff’s attorney for the amount owed. Payments are made to the Plaintiff/Plaintiff’s attorney.

Q: How can I stop a garnishment?

  • If filed timely, you may file an Objection to a Garnishment. Generally, a defendant has 14 days from the date the Writ of Garnishment was mailed to him/her to file an objection. If you have questions regarding the timeliness of the filing, you may contact the Court at (269) 982-8683 (Saint Joseph) or (269) 684-5274 (Niles).
  • You may also file a Motion for Installment Payments. Please bring income information and a list of monthly expenses for the Court to consider when filing a Motion for Installment Payments. After filing a Motion for Installment Payments, a copy of the motion is sent to the plaintiff or their attorney. The plaintiff has 14 days to object to the entry of an Order for Installment Payments. If the plaintiff objects, there will be a hearing in front of the Judge. If you are being garnished, the garnishment does not stop until a Judge signs an order to stop it. If the Judge signs an Order for Installment Payments, you are then responsible to make your payment to the plaintiff or their attorney.

Q: I paid my Judgment, why is it still on my credit report?

If you have a signed Satisfaction of Judgment, send a copy to all three of the credit bureaus. If you do not have a signed Satisfaction of Judgment, contact the plaintiff or plaintiff’s attorney for entry of a Satisfaction of Judgment.

Q: How do I evict someone?

Eviction is a three step process.

First:

  • You must give the tenant notice. If you want to terminate the tenancy (in other words, you want the tenant to move out), you must serve a Notice to Quit for Termination of Tenancy or Notice to Quit to Recover Possession of Property. If you will allow the tenant to stay if they pay the rent owed, you must serve a Demand for Possession for Non-Payment of Rent. For this first step, you may serve the tenant by handing them the paperwork OR by regular mail only. If you mail the notice, you should ask the post office for a certificate of mailing.
  • For a termination of tenancy, you must give the tenant at least 30 days (or the rental period) to move. For non-payment of rent, you must give the tenant 7 days to pay. If you mailed notice to the tenant, you must add a day to each waiting period.  (i.e. 31 days or 8 days)

Second:

  • If the tenant does not move out, bring the original Notice to Quit with three (3) copies of the original Notice and two (2) copies of the lease (if available) to the Courthouse. File these with a Complaint for Termination of Tenancy or to Recover Possession of Property and Summons to get a hearing date from the Court. If you mailed the notice, please also bring the certificate of mailing.
  • If the tenant does not pay, bring the original Demand for Possession with three (3) copies of the original Demand and two (2) copies of the lease (if available). File these with a Complaint for Non-Payment of Rent and Summons to get a hearing date from the Court. If you mailed the notice, please also bring the certificate of mailing.

Third:

  • Attend the Court hearing.
    • If you receive a Judgment in your favor, the Judge will determine when the tenant must move out. If the tenant does not move out, return to the file room AFTER the date determined by the Judge and apply for a Writ of Eviction. After the Judge signs the Writ, the Writ is given to a Deputy Sheriff (P.C.I.). They will contact you and make arrangements for eviction.
    • If the tenant receives a Judgment in his/her favor, they will not be required to move out.
    • If the case is dismissed, you may have to start over or file a motion to set aside the dismissal.

 

 
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