Family cases include divorce with or without children, custody, support, paternity, and related cases. All cases of this kind are filed with the Livingston County Clerk, at the Circuit Court Clerk’s office at the Judicial Center, 204 S. Highlander Way, Howell, MI 48843.
Case filing: Requirements are as below:
Divorce with children
The Clerk’s staff cannot give out legal advice, but can provide court procedural information, and can be reached at 517-546-9816 or via e-mail at Circuit Court Clerk.
Attorneys or Mediators: Individuals interested in hiring an attorney who works in Livingston County can visit the Livingston County Bar Association website or check other resources. Livingston County Courts recognize that often, there is stress and significant emotional challenge to members of the family during these cases. The Court encourages parents to be attentive to the needs of children, and to consider seeking services and supports as needed. Although the Court does not endorse any specific providers of services, there are groups that encourage parties to consider peaceful conflict resolution, and provide access to resources to support that. More information can be found at Livingston Inter-Disciplinary Professional Association (LIPA) or Family Mediation Council – Michigan websites. Families are also encouraged to seek help from mental health professionals who work with families as appropriate.
Livingston County maintains a list of court-approved Domestic Relations Mediators. These mediators must meet requirements of the Court Rules, including attending approved 40 hour training, observing mediations and being observed as a mediator, and obtaining advanced mediation training. Generally, these mediators work with parties as early in the case as possible, including before a case is even filed with the Court, to help reach agreements on all of the issues in a cost effective way.
Legal aid is available through Legal Services of South Central Michigan.
Parties who are representing themselves will be required to follow all of the rules of the Court. Michigan Legal Help is a resource for individuals who represent themselves in Court. Click here for more information. Individuals interested in hiring an attorney who works in Family Law in Livingston County can visit the Livingston County Bar Association website or check other resources.
Domestic Violence: Livingston County Courts recognize that Domestic Violence may be a factor in family cases. LACASA provides comprehensive services, including safety planning, consultation with attorneys, and assistance with Petitions for Personal Protection. To file a Petition for a Domestic Relations Personal Protection Order (PPO), you will need to come to the Circuit Court Clerk’s office. You will need to take follow-up steps if the PPO is granted, or denied. If you do obtain a PPO and it is violated, you will need to follow up. The Family Connection Center is a resource for families experiencing domestic violence, allowing for a parent to visit children or exchange children for parenting time in a setting designed for the safety of both children and adult victims of violence.
Packet of Materials Received at Filing: When a Court case is filed, the case is assigned to a judge. Generally, if it is a Divorce with no children, the case will be assigned to Judge Carol Sue Reader, Judge Theresa Brennan, or Judge Suzanne Geddis. All other family cases are assigned to either Judge Miriam Cavanaugh or Judge David Reader. Some Judges have packets of materials that are handed out at filing, and those packets may contain dates for future court appearances and dates by which certain steps in the case are expected to be completed. See each Judge’s profile page for filing packet information.
Friend of the Court: All family cases involving children will be handled through the Friend of the Court.
What happens after a Judgment is entered: Parties to family law cases may need to come back to Court after the final Judgment is entered. They may need to have decisions made regarding children, including custody and related issued until children reach age 18 and child support enforcement even beyond children reaching age 18. They may need the Court to interpret or enforce other provisions of their Judgment. There are Custody Motions, Objections to Proposed Orders, Parenting Time Motions, and Support Motions.