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Circuit Court FAQs

Q: What are the various Circuit Court fees?

  • Open a file - $175.00 No additional fee to file any motion or petition on the same day as opening the file.
  • Motion and Petitions - $20.00 (one or more may be filed on the same day in the same case for one $20.00 fee).  Family post judgement fees are $60.00 or $100.00 depending on the relief requested.
  • Garnishment - $15.00 (each writ)
  • Request & Order to Seize Property - $15.00
  • Subpoena ( judgment debtor ) - $15.00
  • Jury Demand - $85.00
  • Copies - $1.00 per page
  • Certified copies - $10.00 for certification and $1.00 for each copied page
  • Exemplified copies - $10.00 for exemplification and $1.00 for each copied page
  • To file an Appeal to the Circuit Court is $150.00 and to the Court of Appeals is $25.00

Q: How do I get a restricted driver's license?

A restricted drivers license can be obtained through the Circuit Court. There is $175.00 filing fee.

Q: How do I transfer a vehicle title (repeat offender law)?

Before you file your ex-parte petition with the court petitioner/transferee will need:

  1. Detailed sufficient reasons for the transfer including place of employment if transferee is employed.
  2. Are there any other cars in the family?
  3. Copy of title showing any liens and indicate the name on the title.
  4. If there is a lien on the title you must have written approval from lien holder allowing the transfer.
  5. Copy of both petitioners/transferees driving records. (From the Secretary of State Office).
  6. There is a $175.00 filing fee.

Q: How to get a civil or criminal record check and how much is it?

You must fill out the required form and pay a $10.00 (effective 1/2/02) fee, upon request. If mailed please include self addressed, stamped envelope.

Q: How do I get a contractor's lien?

You start a contractor's lien at the Register of Deeds office.

Q: Are there forms that I could use for Circuit Court lawsuits, family and civil cases?

Certain forms are pre-printed. For example, summons, garnishments, some judgements, answer forms, and certain motions. Attorneys draft most of the documents that are filed in Circuit Court. You may call the Self Help Legal Resource Center at 269-983-7111, x8793 or go to http://courts.mi.gov.


Q: If filing in proper person, how do I get started opening a new case?

Please refer to the Michigan Rules of Court publisher - West Group. It is recommended to seek an attorney. We can not give out legal advice.

Q: How do I file an appeal regarding a MESC (unemployment) decision?

An appeal regarding the MESC is filed in the Circuit Court. There are no fees required. You may open it with a complaint and summons through an attorney. If in proper person proceed according to Michigan Court Rules. We cannot give you legal advice. We are not attorneys

Q: What years are stored in the warehouse, what years are stored at the courthouse?

Circuit Court Civil files stored at the Courthouse are the current year's files plus the two previous years.  Circuit Court files stored at the warehouse start at 1835 (warehouse not open to public).

Q: Do I need an Attorney?

You are not required to have an attorney, however due to the complexity of the Circuit Court, it is best to get an attorney. It is always recommended to seek advice from an attorney. WE DO NOT GIVE OUT LEGAL ADVICE.

Q: Where can I get a copy of my Judgment of Divorce and what is the cost?

You can obtain a copy from the Family Division of the County Clerk's office. The cost is $1.00 per page.  If you need a certified copy, the cost is $10, plus $1.00 per page.

Q: What constitutes a Circuit Court case?

Criminal: all criminal cases start in District Court. If a criminal case is determined to be a felony, it is then bound over into Circuit Court.

Civil: District Court civil cases are damages under $25,000. Circuit Court civil cases are damages over $25,000.

Family: a domestic case is actually considered a civil matter, however due to the domestic/family issues these cases are filed in the Family Division. All Family Division cases are at Circuit level which include: divorce, support, custody, paternity, personal protection orders, juvenile cases.

Q: How much does it cost to get a Personal Protection Order?

There is no charge.

Q: When will I know if my PPO has been approved?

The County Clerk's Office makes every effort to process PPO petitions within 48 hours.  If your case is approved, the PPO Clerk will notify you by phone.  If your case is denied, you will be notified by mail as to the Court's decision.

Q: If my PPO is approved, how will I have it served?

The packet including the petition also includes a sheet with complete instructions regarding the service of your PPO. 

Q: What happens if the PPO is violated?

Contact the police immediately to report the violation.   

The respondent must come appear in Court if arrested.  If the person is not arrested for the violation, you may come in to either of the County Clerk's office locations referenced above and ask for a "Motion to Show Cause" form.  If approved, the court will hold a hearing with regards to the violation.

The Court may jail the repondent if found guilty of violating the terms of the PPO.  The sentence may be up to 93 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $500.00.


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Berrien County Courthouse
811 Port Street, St. Joseph, MI 49085
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Last Updated 4/22/2016   
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