General Civil Division
64B District Court
General Civil Division
What is General Civil Court?
The general civil division is responsible for handling monetary disputes up to $25,000, and claim and delivery cases in which the item in dispute is $25,000 or less. The general civil division handles its cases in a formal setting before a judge. The parties in a general civil case are expected to follow proper civil procedure; it is recommended that if you are not familiar with civil court rules and regulations, you consult with or hire an attorney. Plaintiffs and defendants who are corporations or LLCs are required to have attorney representation.
** Please note that the clerks of the court are not attorneys, and are NOT allowed to advise either the plaintiff or the defendant in any way.
The following is a very basic outline of the process a general civil lawsuit goes through:
- To start the lawsuit, the plaintiff files a summons and a complaint at the court. Determine which court is the proper venue. You may file based on where the claim arose, or where the defendant/business resides.
- The summons & complaint are served on the defendant. Depending on how the defendant is served, the defendant has either 21 or 28 days to file the written answer with the court, and the plaintiff, or to take other legal action. It is important that that the defendant reads through the complaint in its entirety. Both parties should keep copies of all paperwork that is sent and received.
- If the defendant fails to file an answer, the plaintiff may request to have a default judgment entered.
- If the court receives the Defendant’s answer timely, the court will then set the case for a pretrial conference.
- If the parties have not settled the dispute by the time the pretrial conference arrives, both parties will need to come to court on the assigned date and time and check in at the front counter window labeled “Small Claims.” The parties will be directed from there.
- If the case cannot be settled at the pre-trial conference, it will be set for a trial, either a bench trial in front of the judge or a jury trial if one was requested.
- Please follow the same procedure the day of the trial.
For more information on general civil lawsuits, visit the State Court website.
Collecting Money on a Civil Judgment
If you are awarded a judgment for money or the defendant signs a consent judgment, you may begin collection activities 22 days after the date the judgment was signed by the judge. Read more about options for collecting money. This will help explain your options in trying to collect money from a judgment.
Frequently asked questions
I was just served a Summons & Complaint. What do I need to do next?
Start by reading through the papers that you were served so that you understand the claims being filed against you. Follow the instructions on the Summons to file your written answer (response) with the court and the plaintiff/plaintiff’s attorney.
When will I have a court date?
Once a defendant responds in writing to the Summons & Complaint, a Settlement Conference date, and a trial date will be scheduled. Notice of these dates along with discovery deadlines will be mailed to both parties. Please note that other hearings/motions may be filed by the initiative of either party before the conference and trial dates. Typically, both parties are required to attend these hearings/motions. The notice of these dates does NOT come from the court.
Do I need to hire an attorney?
You are not required to have an attorney for General Civil cases unless you are a corporation or an LLC. You may wish to hire an attorney to represent you if you are unfamiliar with the civil lawsuit process, Michigan Court Rules, and Michigan laws. If you choose to represent yourself, you are expected to abide by the requirements the same as an attorney would.
Why do I have a default judgment entered against me?
When you are served (either personally, or by alternate service methods) you must respond in writing to the claims made against you within a certain time frame (either 21 days or 28 days depending on how you were served). When you fail to file this written response, you are considered to have defaulted, and the plaintiff may request to have a default judgment entered against you.
I have a default judgment entered against me. Can I have this set aside?
You may pay $20 to file a Motion to Set Aside the Default Judgment. Your motion will be held in front of a judge with the plaintiff in attendance as well. The judge will determine if the default judgment is to be set aside. Filing this motion does NOT guarantee the judgment will be set aside.