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Michigan Court Records

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Where To Find Family Court Records In Michigan?

Family court records in the state of Michigan may be obtained from the circuit courts. The family divisions of these courts handle family law cases including divorce, adoption, paternity, and emancipation of minors. The circuit courts also oversee family law matters involving agencies in the State Court Administrative Office.

The Friend of the Court Bureau oversees domestic-related cases involving minors. The Child Welfare Services assists the circuit courts in proceedings about child welfare issues. Family court records may be retrieved from the clerk of the circuit court where the case occurred. However, Requirements to get family court records may differ among the county courts.

The records contained in documents related to family court include both marriage and divorce records. Both types of records contain information that is considered very personal to the parties involved, and it is recommended that those parties maintain these records with care in order to make changes in the future. The personal nature of these records results in both being considerably more difficult to find and obtain when compared to other types of public records. In many cases, these records are not available through either government sources or third party public record websites.

What Is Family Law In Michigan?

Family law in Michigan consists of acts and statuses about the laws guiding family matters. These statutes include:

  • Child Protection Law: This family law oversees issues on the abuse and neglect of children. It likewise centers on the protection and welfare services of children and the prevention of abuse and neglect by social services
  • The Paternity Act: This act directs the circuit courts on proceedings that involve the provision of support to children born outside a marriage, the procedures involved, and the punishment for the violation of the provisions agreed upon. This family law may also be brought under the Acknowledgment of Parentage Act
  • Child Custody Act: This statute focuses on the rights of minors till they come of a certain age and the duties of their parents and guardian in custody disputes. Child custody is primarily given in the best interests of the child. Michigan family law explores the possibility of joint custody before sole custody is considered
  • The Family Support Act: This family law covers issues on the payment of money for the support of minor children by non-custodial parents. Periodical payments are required to be made to the custodial parents for the upkeep of the child
  • Divorce: Procedures of divorce and how it affects certain family matters including child custody, parenting time, property ownership, and alimony support are covered in the divorce chapter
  • Adoption: The Michigan Adoption Code covers the adoption laws and procedures in the state. It provides measures that promote the best interests of the adopted child and the legal proceedings involved in adopting them

What Are Family Court Cases and Records In Michigan?

Michigan state’s family court cases and records are classified into different categories with each focusing on a particular issue. Some of these categories include:

  • Marriage and divorce: This category entails marriage and divorce issues such as the validity and requirements for marriage in the state. Divorce procedures and other related issues are also discussed in the statuses
  • Domestic violence: Domestic violence cases in family law deal with abuses between partners or abuses done to a child. Also, how domestic violence affects certain issues like child custody. Domestic violence includes physical abuse, emotional abuse, violent threats, and sexual assault
  • Child support: Family law about child support involves matters of a parent’s obligation to pay for the financial support of their children at a given period. In most cases, the non-custodial parent is required to make a periodic payment for the welfare of the child
  • Child custody and parenting time: This focuses on the responsibilities of parents or guardians in making decisions about a child. Custody could be legal or physical. A parent or guardian may have sole custody or joint custody with another parent. Parenting time refers to a schedule showing the time a parent is allowed to spend with a child. The court requires the parents to agree and adhere to the schedule.
  • Adoption: Under family law, adoption happens when persons assume the role of a parent and are given custody of a child. The adopting parents are given the rights and responsibilities of a biological parent
  • Emancipation of Minors: Emancipation cases deal with the release of minor children from the control of their parents before they reach the legal age. If granted by court order, the minor may enjoy the rights of an adult
  • Paternity: Paternity court cases deal with the legal acknowledgment of a biological father for children born outside wedlock. This gives the child the same rights and privileges enjoyed by children born in marriages.
  • Name Changes: Name change cases at family courts occur when an adult or a child is seeking to change their name legally. A petition to change name must be filed with a circuit court within a county area.
  • Setting Aside a Juvenile Adjudication: This court case is for the expungement of juvenile public records. Although crimes committed as a minor are not criminal convictions, they are recorded. Concerned individuals may need to expunge such records when they attain the legal age.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

Are Family Court Cases Public Records In Michigan?

Following the Michigan Court Rules, court records, including family cases, are regarded and filed as public records. Family court records such as divorce records, adoption records, and child custody records are accessible to the general public and may be obtained from the custodians of the circuit courts, following the procedures involved. However, family court records are restricted to individuals incarcerated in jail facilities.

How Do I Find Family Court Records In Michigan?

Family court records may be retrieved from the circuit court where the case proceedings occurred. While the procedures and requirements for obtaining family court records differ among various county circuit courts, most court records are available at the corresponding offices of the clerks of the courts. These clerks often act as the custodian of all court records including family court records.

The majority of court clerks in Michigan offer in-person, mail-in, and online request services. Before visiting or sending a mail to the applicable clerk’s office, contact the office to enquire about search fees, copy fees, and other requirements. Phone and fax numbers of these clerks can be found on the court directories page hosted on the Michigan Courts website. Looking up a family court record requires the following information:

  • Full names of the parties involved in the case
  • Case filing number
  • Approximate date the case was closed
  • Names of the presiding judge(s) or jury
  • Names of attorneys representing the parties

While family court records are generally found through official channels, it is also possible to search for, and locate them via reliable third-party websites that provide such services.

Public family court records in Michigan may also be obtained by submitting a record request to the relevant Friend of The Court Bureau.

Divorce and marriage records may be available through government sources and organizations, though their availability cannot be guaranteed. This is also true of their availability through third-party websites and companies, as these organizations are not government-sponsored and record availability may vary further. Finally, marriage and divorce records are considered extremely private due to the information they contain, and are often sealed. Bearing these factors in mind, record availability for these types of records cannot be guaranteed.

How Do I Find Family Court Records Online?

While Michigan state’s family courts do not provide a central repository for finding court records, interested persons may obtain publicly available information on family court cases. Interested persons may select the court the case held and search with the case name, case number, or petition number.

Family court records may be accessed online in various counties like Grand Traverse county. Leelanau county provides online accessibility for divorce, family support, and paternity cases. Most of Ottawa county’s family court records may also be accessed online. Records may be searched with the names of the parties involved, date, and case numbers.

Because of the sensitive nature of family law cases, some of them may not be available to the public.

What Is Michigan Custody Law?

The Child Custody Act of 1970 contains the laws guiding custody rights and procedures in Michigan state. Custody cases in the state are public affairs.

Child custody in Michigan is granted in the best interests of the child. Section 722.23 of the act describes these interests based on factors including:

  • The relationship between the parties involved and the child
  • The capability of the parties involved to provide for the child emotionally, financially, and in other ways
  • The mental and physical health status of the persons involved
  • The preference of the child if they are of a reasonable age to choose among the parties involved.
  • Acts of domestic violence and other forms of violence that the child may have suffered or witnessed.

In a situation of custody disputes due to divorce, Section 722.26a of the Child Custody Act says the parents will be counseled to have joint custody of the child. The court will consider some factors to determine if joint custody is in the best interests of the child. The parties involved must also agree and be willing to cooperate on issues concerning the welfare of the child. If granted joint custody, the court may state the terms of how physical custody will be shared between both parties to ensure adequate contact with both parents. Both parents handle child support and are expected to cater for the child during the time it resides with either of them. The parents are also mandated to both contribute to decision-making that may affect the child’s welfare.

Sole custody over a child may also be granted if the court believes it is in the best interests of the child. The non-custodial parent may be awarded parenting time to see the child. The schedule of the parenting time may vary with the court’s evaluation. However, a parent incarcerated due to a sexual offense will not be awarded parental rights, per Section 722.25 of the Child Custody Act.

How To Find Family Court Lawyers In Michigan?

Interested persons may find family court lawyers on the State Bar of Michigan website. The site hosts a search tool for getting lawyers. Persons looking to employ family lawyers may use the search bar to put in the kind of lawyer they need. Search results may be narrowed down by searching with the city and county area.

Lawyers may also be gotten through the Michigan family legal aid and pro bono services. Interested individuals that need the services of family lawyers can contact this legal aid organization.

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