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What are Michigan Family Court Records?
Michigan family court records are official documents containing information regarding claims, complaints and suits filed in/heard by family courts within the jurisdiction of the state of Michigan. These records typically include details of family-related cases as well as motions, judgments, and decrees consequently issued by the circuit courts following a hearing or trial. As per Michigan state laws, these records may be made available to interested members of the public upon request both in-person, by mail, or online through official and third-party sources.
What Cases are Heard by Michigan Family Courts?
Family courts in Michigan operate as divisions of the state circuit courts and were established to handle all family-related matters of the state. These divisions hear cases pertaining to adoption, divorce, juvenile crimes including traffic offenses, child custody and/or protective hearings as well as individual protection orders and non-adult community services.
Following the establishment of the public act 388 in Michigan, the family cases previously heard by the circuit and probate courts of the state became consolidated under the family division. All records and filings pertaining to these cases are managed by the judicial teams of each case and/or the court clerk of the circuit court in the jurisdiction where the case was originally filed.
What is Included in Michigan Family Court Records?
Michigan family court records typically feature general case information as well as the personal information of the parties involved and any witnesses and jurors (if applicable). Essentially, most court records indicate the names and addresses of the plaintiff and defendant, the case type, the place and date of filing, trial transcripts, motions, decrees and evidence filed in the course of court proceedings. Court records may also indicate penalties, financial settlements, and terms of shared child-custody, protective orders or related arrangements.
Are Family Court Records Public in Michigan?
According to the provisions of U.S public access laws, most court records are available to members of the public upon request. However, restrictions may be placed on the release of family court records specifically those relating to juveniles or deemed confidential by a court order. Summarily, while general case information may be accessible to interested members of the public, access to the following information will be dependent on the authority of the requesting party:
- The personal information of children/juveniles and court proceedings pertaining to juveniles
- Bank account, social security numbers, and related financial information
- Court proceedings relating to mental health or involving details of the psychological evaluation
- Details of adoption, domestic violence, child custody and paternity proceedings
- Protection order information
To obtain any of the aforementioned information, the requesting party will be required to obtain authorization via court order or subpoena. Following the state’s restrictions, requests for confidential information may only be made in-person as remotely accessible channels only provide access to records deemed public.
How Do I Get Family Court Records in Michigan?
The state of Michigan provides a variety of channels through which court records are disseminated to interested members of the public. Primarily, family court record management and issuance is the responsibility of the clerks of the various circuit and probate courts of the state. However, these records are also accessible using the online resources maintained by each of the state’s 57 circuit courts.
How to Obtain Family Court Records Online
While Michigan’s circuit courts operate various court docket search tools, the Michigan One Court of Justice Website serves as the central online repository for court case information. The website features various online search tools for accessing court records of Michigan’s Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and Trial Courts which encompasses circuit, district and probate courts.
To obtain Michigan family court records online, circuit and probate court searches may be conducted using the state’s Case Search tool. This will require the requestor to furnish the tool with information such as the docket number, the name of a party involved or the personal information of an attorney in the case.
Additionally, the featured trial directories provide comprehensive information regarding the local circuit, probate and district courts which provide online access to records and other related functions.
Publicly available records are accessible from some third-party websites. These websites offer the benefit of not being limited by geographical record availability and can often serve as a starting point when researching specific or multiple records. To find a record using the search engines on these sites, interested parties must provide:
- The name of someone involved providing it is a not a juvenile
- The assumed location of the record in question such as a city, county, or state name
Third party sites are not government sponsored websites, and record availability may differ from official channels.
Family Court Records can include marriage records and Michigan divorce records. These records contain personal information of those involved and their maintenance is critical should anyone involved wish to make changes. Because of this both marriage and divorce records can be considered more difficult to locate and obtain than other public records, and may not be available through government sources or third party public record websites.
Requirements for Obtaining Family Court Records In Person
To obtain family-court records from Michigan courts in person, the requesting party is required to locate the courthouse where the case was filed as well as obtain the required legal authority to access the record. This process is especially recommended for finding court trial transcripts, and court records containing confidential information.
Upon verifying the location of the record custodian, in-person requests may be made to the courthouse during office hours. Requestors will be required to provide details of the required record including the names of the parties involved, the case file number and/or docket information, and the date the case was filed or judgment delivered. To validate their request, the requesting party may also be required to present a government-issued ID and cover any associated costs—this may be required for obtaining authenticated copies of the record of interest.
Along with providing information regarding the online resources of the various trial courts, the trial court directories of the Michigan courts website provides details of various court locators, administrators, and probate registers.
Requirements for Accessing Family Records Via Mail
Alternative to making in-person requests to a courthouse, family court records may be retrieved by making mail-in queries to the record custodian. Upon verifying the jurisdiction where the case was filed, details of the court mail address and other contact information may be found using the trial court directories.
Prior to each query, requestors are advised to confirm the requirements for mail-in requests by contacting the court administrator or clerk of the concerned court for details of the jurisdiction’s requirement for making mail-in requests. All written requests must feature the full names of the parties involved, as well as relevant case information. The requesting party may also be required to enclose a copy of their government-issued ID, a cheque or money order receipt for any indicated fees and a self-addressed envelope.
Specialized Family Court Records
Along with generating and maintaining records of court-proceedings and trial transcripts in family-case hearings, the Family Division of Michigan Circuit courts also manages a variety of court decrees and records. These documents provide legal authorization for marriage dissolutions, child custody, adoptions and actions pertaining to the execution of wills, management of estates and other financial claims. Like court records, these documents may be made available to interested and eligible persons. However, the eligibility requirements for these records generally varies with the information contained in the record.
How to Access Adoption Records
The state of Michigan operates a central adoption registry which houses information regarding the birth parents and biological siblings of an adoptee. However, this registry is only accessible by courts or adoption agencies. As such, all requests for adoption records may be made to the court which processed the adoption; which, in this case, is the circuit court in the jurisdiction where the adoption was heard and/or granted.
Adoption records that are not provided on the central adoption registry may be found using the state’s alternative resources—the confidential intermediary program or the closed adoption records division. Information from the closed adoption records may be issued to adult adoptees, adoptive or biological parents, and biological siblings. However, all requesters except the adoptee are disallowed from obtaining identifying information, except in specific circumstances. Eligible requestors may access these records by making in-person or mail-in queries to the division through the central adoption registry at:
Department of Community Health,
201 Townsend Street,
Capitol View Building,
Lansing, MI 48909
How Do I Access Divorce Court Records in Michigan?
As per Michigan state laws, divorce records are accessible by interested members of the public. These records are primarily managed and disseminated by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services but may also be accessed from the office of the clerk of courts in the courthouse where the divorce was granted.
While the public may verify information regarding a divorce with few restrictions, certified or authenticated copies of divorce court records may only be accessed by persons with reasonable interest. However, this is the case for divorces which are no more than 100 years old.
To request information regarding a divorce, interested persons may download and complete the Request for Verification of Michigan Divorce form. However, requests for certified or authentic copies of divorce records may be made using the Application For Michigan Divorce Record form. Completed applications should be enclosed along with the indicated fees and ID requirements and delivered in person or via mail to:
Vital Records Requests
South Grand Building, 1st Floor
333 S Grand Avenue
PO Box 30721
Lansing MI 48909
Both government websites and organizations may offer divorce and marriage records. Similarly, third party public record websites can also provide these types of records. But because third party organizations are not operated or sponsored by the government, record availability may vary. Further, marriage and divorce records are considered highly private and are often sealed, meaning availability of these types of records cannot be guaranteed.
How Do I Access Child Custody Court Records in Michigan?
In the state of Michigan, concerns pertaining to child custody are managed by the circuit court or probate court depending on the criminal history of the minor or their mental and/or physical health. However, as is the case with most states, documents featuring identifying information of minors and other sensitive details are not public record in the state of Michigan.
To obtain child custody records, interested persons may self-serve using the case search engine of the Michigan Courts One Court of Justice website. Searches may be conducted by docket number, party name or attorney case list. Alternatively, in-person and mail-in requests can be made by preparing a written request indicating relevant information regarding the record of interest. Where the information required is deemed confidential all requests must also be accompanied by a court order or subpoena along with the required identifying documents of the requestor. Information regarding local trial courts that may provide information regarding related services may be found on the trial court directory of the state courts website.