Starting Court Case

No court can require a party to use an attorney; however, anyone who wants to start a court case must follow the Michigan Court Rules and Michigan Laws.  Because most cases involve difficult legal and factual questions, most people want to be represented by an attorney.  You may contact Lansing to start a case via their toll free number 1-866-540-0000.

Plaintiff's Complaint
Each case begins with the plaintiff (the person requesting the court’s assistance) filing papers which ask the court to order something (a complaint) concerning another party (the defendant).  Among the things a complaint may ask the court to do are the following:

  • Grant a divorce
  • Order child support or spousal support 
  • Establish paternity
  • Grant an order for custody of a child
  • Establish parenting time with a child

Service
The plaintiff must arrange for the defendant to be served with a summons and a copy of the complaint.  The summons tells the defendant to answer the complaint.  Whenever minor children are involved or spousal support is being requested, a Friend of the Court informational handbook (this handbook or one like it) must be given to the defendant, along with the summons and complaint.


Defendant's Answer to Complaint
The defendant usually is allowed 21 days to answer the complaint.  If the defendant does not answer within 21 days, the judge may enter an order granting the plaintiff’s requests.