Michigan has three trial courts—Circuit, District, and Probate.
The circuit court is the trial court with the broadest powers in Michigan. In general, the circuit court handles all civil cases with claims of more than $25,000 and all felony criminal cases (cases where the accused, if found guilty, could be sent to prison). The family division of circuit court handles all cases regarding divorce, paternity, adoptions, personal protection actions, emancipation of minors, treatment and testing of infectious disease, safe delivery of newborns, name changes, juvenile offenses and delinquency, juvenile guardianship, and child abuse and neglect. In addition, the circuit court hears cases appealed from the other trial courts or from administrative agencies. The friend of the court office is part of the family division of the circuit court and handles domestic relations cases where minor children are involved.
In addition, there is a Court of Claims for filing cases against the State of Michigan in which a claim for money damages is made. As of November 12, 2013, the Court of Claims is part of the Michigan Court of Appeals. The Court of Claims is a specialized court that handles only claims over $1,000 filed against the State of Michigan or one of its departments.
There are 57 circuit courts in Michigan. Circuit court judges are elected for six-year terms.
There are approximately 100 district courts in Michigan. District court judges are elected for six-year terms.
The probate court handles wills, administers estates and trusts, appoints guardians and conservators, and orders treatment for mentally ill and developmentally disabled persons.
There are 78 probate courts in Michigan; probate judges are elected for six-year terms.