The Circuit Court is referred to as the "trial court of general jurisdiction" in Michigan because of its very broad powers. Circuit Court has jurisdiction over all actions except those given by state law to another court. Generally speaking, Circuit Court has original jurisdiction in all civil cases involving more than $25,000; in all criminal cases where the offense involves a felony or certain serious misdemeanors; and in all family cases and domestic relations cases such as divorce, paternity actions, juvenile proceedings, and adoptions.
The State of Michigan is divided into judicial circuits along county lines. The number of judges in a circuit reflects the volume of business in the court. If there is more than one county in a circuit, such as ours, judges travel from one county seat to another to hold court sessions. Our judges conduct court in both Newaygo County as well as Oceana County .
The Circuit Court also hears cases appealed from lower courts and from some administrative agencies of state government. In addition, the Circuit Court has superintending control over other courts within the circuit, subject to final superintending powers of the Supreme Court.
Circuit judges are elected for six-year terms on non-partisan ballots. A candidate must be a resident of the circuit in which the candidate is running, a qualified elector, licensed to practice law in Michigan , and at the time of election less than 70 years of age. The legislature sets salaries for circuit judges.
The Family Division, a division of Circuit Court, has exclusive jurisdiction over all family matters such as divorce, custody, parenting time, support, paternity, adoptions, name changes, juvenile proceedings, emancipation of minors, parental consent, and personal protection proceedings. The Family Division also has ancillary jurisdiction over cases involving guardianships and conservatorships and proceedings involving the mentally ill or developmentally disabled.