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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.
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.
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.
Before you file an Ex Parte Petition with the Court, Petitioner and Transferee will need to:
After your Ex Parte Order is entered the Transferee will need to give the Secretary of States Office a certified copy of this order.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Eviction is a three step process. Visit our eviction page for more information.
You can apply for a CPL permit at:Berrien County Clerk’s Office701 Main StreetSt. Joseph, MI 49085
Or, at:Niles South County Building1205 N. Front StreetNiles, MI 49120
The CPL applications can be obtained at both locations and online.
Currently, an applicant must be 21 years of age to apply.
You will need a current Michigan Driver’s License or State I.D. with a Berrien County address.
If you are a first time applicant, it can take up to 45 days for the permit to be approved and mailed to you. If it is a renewal, it can take up to 30 days for the permit to be approved and mailed to you.
Yes, it is if you are a first time applicant and the training must be done through an approved Michigan NRA training course.
The fee is $100 for a first time applicant and $115 for a renewal. All fees are non-refundable.
There are 3 ways to obtain a copy of your birth record:
Visit our Birth Record Requests page for easy-to-follow instructions.
You may order your birth record securely over the phone through VitalChek at 888-243-0055. Payments for records ordered through VitalChek are made by credit card. Please keep in mind that orders placed over the phone are facilitated through a third party, fees will differ from those we offer directly through us in the office or by mail.
No. In order to protect your identity, we are unable to send records electronically by email or fax.
The cost for a certified copy is $13 for the first copy and $4 for each additional copy of the same record purchased at the same time.
Senior citizens aged 65 or older may purchase their own record at the cost of $5 for the first copy and $4 for each additional copy of the same record purchased at the same time.
No. In Michigan, birth records that are less than 100 years old are considered “closed records” and by law may only be obtained by:
We will accept a current valid driver's license, state-issued photo identification card or passport.
If you don’t have current identification, we are happy to work with you to find other ways to verify your identity. Without a current, state issued identification card, you will need to provide at least three pieces of documentation from different sources that will verify your name and date of birth. Please see the back of the request form for suggested items.
Please note: We cannot use a Social Security Card, junk mail or matricula consular cards.
We have death certificates for anyone who has passed away in Berrien County. The years we have on file range from 1867 to the present.
Death certificates are open to the public, anyone can purchase one.
No identification is required to purchase a death certificate.
If you come in to our office, it only takes about 5 minutes. You can also order one online through VitalChek, or order through the mail. A death request form (PDF) is available online.
Yes! If the person whose death certificate you are wanting lived in Berrien County, but passed away somewhere other than Berrien County, we would not have that Death Certificate on file. It would be located in the County where that person passed away. We only have death records for individuals who passed away in Berrien County.
If you live in Michigan: you must apply for a marriage license in the county you live in, and then you can get married anywhere in the State of Michigan.
If both of you live out-of-state: you must apply for a marriage license in the county you wish to be married in.
Marriage Licenses can be obtained by applying in person at the County Clerk’s office or online through our website.
Yes, both people have to appear in person with valid ID to pick up the license if applied for online.
This way, we are able to validate and copy each ID as well as make any changes necessary to the marriage license before the wedding – we can make any changes before the marriage license is signed at the wedding but once the couple is married, it takes a court order at the couple’s expense to get the licenses changed or fixed.
The addresses on the marriage license and driver’s licenses need to match. The best option is to update the driver’s license before applying to get married to ensure the address is current.
The only documentation needed to apply for a marriage license are valid ID’s for both individuals getting married.
The cost of a marriage license is $20 for Berrien County residents and $30 for out-of-state residents.
Every marriage license is valid for 33 days from the day it is applied for. This number includes the three day waiting period, so once the marriage license is picked up (after three days from applying), it will be valid for 30 days. We recommend applying 1-2 weeks before the anticipated date of marriage.
Wedding ceremonies at the Berrien County Courthouse are conducted by the Berrien County Trial Court Judges and Magistrates on the first floor. Couples who wish to be married at the Courthouse must pre-schedule the ceremony at 3:30, 3:45 or 4:00 p.m., Wednesday, Thursday or Friday (except holidays) by calling 269-982-8610. The fee is $10.
Yes. You do not have to register as a member of any party to vote in a Michigan Primary. We have an "Open" Primary. Any registered voter can vote in a Primary.
Yes, but you must choose all candidates from one party or the other in the Primary. As a Primary voter you will be given a ballot that has a column with the Republican candidates for various offices and a column with Democratic candidates for the same offices. The ballot will also have a third column for Nonpartisan offices such as judges and for Proposals. All voters can cast votes in the third column on nonpartisan candidates and proposals.
No. You cannot crossover (select partisan candidates from more than one party) in a Primary election. If you do, your votes for partisan candidates will be invalidated.
You can start a new business in 3 easy steps:
Get the full details by visiting our New Business page.
There is a $10 filing fee at the time filing.
Registration is good for 5 years (less one day) and is renewable 30 days prior to expiration.
In order to change ownership of your DBA or Co-Partnership, you must first dissolve your existing certificate by filing a Certificate of Discontinuance. Then, a new DBA or Co-Partnership can be registered with the desired owners’ names. The Discontinuance fee is $10.
We are not able to make changes to a registered business name. However, you may dissolve your current name and file a new DBA or Co-Partnership with your desired business name for a $20 fee.
Yes. Simply fill out the Change of Address Amendment Form (PDF) and file it along with a $5 fee, in our office. Notarization of the Amendment Form is necessary. If all owners appear in person at the County Clerk’s office with a current valid driver’s license or state-issued ID, we can provide notarization.
No. When registering a Corporation, Limited Partnership, LLC or Non-Profit Organization, contact the State of Michigan Corporation Bureau in Lansing at 517-241-6470 for more information.
A notary public is an officer commissioned by the Michigan Secretary of State to serve as an unbiased and impartial witness. When a document is notarized, it means a Notary Public personally witnessed the person signing the document after first verifying the identity of the signer.
According to the Michigan Department of State Office of the Great Seal you must:
Check out our Becoming a Notary page and follow our simple, step-by-step instructions.
A surety bond provides coverage for damages to anyone who suffers financially due to an improper official act on the part of the notary. The surety may still seek reimbursement from you for any damages it pays on your behalf. Please note that a surety bond is not an insurance policy to protect you.
Notaries public are required to obtain a $10,000 surety bond and file it at the office of the County Clerk in the county where the notary will be appointed.
A list of licensed agencies is available online.
Each notary public commission is for a 6 to 7 year period ending on the notary's birthday. Once your notary commission expires, you must apply for a new commission no more than 60 days prior to the expiration date.
If you are a Berrien County resident and will be notarizing documents in Michigan, you must apply in Berrien County at the County Clerk’s office.
If you are a resident of another county in Michigan, you must apply in the county where you live.
If you are an out of state resident working in Berrien County, you must apply for a Michigan Notary Commission in Berrien County. In this case, you may only notarize documents in Berrien County.