3-A District Court
The district court is often called the people’s court. More people have contact with the district court than any other court. The district court handles most traffic violations. The district court also hears both criminal and civil cases including small claims and landlord-tenant disputes. Civil disputes seeking money damages cannot exceed $25,000 in district court.
15th Circuit Court
The Branch County Circuit Court (15th Judicial Circuit) has jurisdiction over all felony criminal cases, civil cases where the amount in dispute is greater than $25,000, domestic relations cases including divorce, paternity, and family support, appeals from administrative agencies and the District Court, disputes involving the title to land and matters involving equity.
Friend of the Court
The Branch County Friend of the Court (FOC) works for the Circuit Court, with primary responsibilities for enforcement of the Court’s orders regarding custody, parenting time and the support of minor children. The FOC also conducts hearings and investigations, and makes reports and recommendations to the Court on those matters. It offers mediation, as an alternative dispute resolution process, for custody and parenting time issues.
As contrasted with federal and circuit courts, which derive much of their power from the U.S. Constitution, Michigan probate courts obtain their authority from statutes authored by the Michigan State Legislature. The probate court is a civil court; that is, it is service-oriented, it relates to the private rights of citizens and provides protection for people who are for specific reasons vulnerable. The remedies sought through action in probate court are considered distinct from criminal proceedings.