Civil Division

Points to Consider
The court is only a tool that is available to you for settling disputes or establishing and reducing your claims to judgment. You are responsible for locating the parties, determining your course of action, and gathering your witnesses and evidence. The necessary forms may be obtained at any court or from any business supply house that carries legal forms, the Michigan Courts- One Court of Justice or Michigan Legal Help .
While the staff of this court will try to help either party to an action, you must understand that:
Our clerks are not attorneys and they cannot give legal advice.
The judges, who are attorneys, may not and will not give advice on matters they may have to rule on.
This court can render money judgments only and has no power to force anyone to do something or to stop doing something.

By having your case tried in the Small Claims Division, you give up the following rights:

  1. The right to have an attorney.
  2. The right to appeal to a higher court.
  3. The right to a jury trial.
The defendant may choose not to give up these rights. He/she can demand before or at the time of hearing that the case be transferred to the General Civil Division.

General Civil
In civil cases, you must file a summons and complaint upon the defendant. The summons does what its name suggests; it summons or calls the defendant before the court. The complaint is perhaps the more important document. In the complaint, the plaintiff makes allegations or accusations against the defendant. The plaintiff’s complaint will charge the defendant either with causing bodily injury or property damage or with depriving the plaintiff of something of value to which the plaintiff believes he/she is entitled. The complaint will also request the court to award damages, that is money to the plaintiff to compensate them for their bodily injury or property damages or the thing of which they have been deprived. The defendant responds to the complaint by filing a document called an answer.

The most you can collect through a judgment in the General Civil Division is $25,000 plus costs. To file a civil case in the 56-B District Court the business or person you are suing must do business or live in Barry County or the action must have occurred in Barry County. In a civil case, legal counsel may represent you.

Please contact the Civil Division at 269-945-1404 ext. 5 with any questions you may have regarding General Civil Cases.