63rd District Court
General Civil Division
What is General Civil Court?
The general civil division is responsible for handling monetary disputes up to $25,000, and claim and delivery cases in which the item in dispute is $25,000 or less. The general civil division handles its cases in a formal setting before a judge. The parties in a general civil case are expected to follow proper civil procedure; it is recommended that if you are not familiar with civil court rules and regulations, you consult with or hire an attorney. Plaintiffs and defendants who are corporations or LLCs are required to have attorney representation.
For help locating an attorney, please contact Legal Assistance at (616) 632-6000.
** Please note that the clerks of the court are not attorneys, and are NOT allowed to advise either the plaintiff or the defendant in any way.
The following is a very basic outline of the process a general civil lawsuit goes through:
- To start the lawsuit, the plaintiff files a summons and a complaint at the court. Determine which court is the proper venue. You may file based on where the claim arose, or where the defendant/business resides.
- The summons & complaint are served on the defendant. Depending on how the defendant is served, the defendant has either 21 or 28 days to file the written answer with the court, and the plaintiff, or to take other legal action. It is important that that the defendant reads through the complaint in its entirety. Both parties should keep copies of all paperwork that is sent and received.
- If the defendant fails to file an answer, the plaintiff may request to have a default judgment entered.
- If the court receives the answer timely, the court will then set the case for a scheduling conference and a bench trial about six months out (unless a jury demand has been properly filed by either party).
- If the parties have not settled the dispute by the time the scheduling conference arrives, both parties will need to come to court on the assigned date and time and check in at the front counter window labeled “Civil”. The parties will be directed from there.
- Please follow the same procedure the day of the trial.
For more information on general civil lawsuits, visit the state court website.
Collecting Money on a Civil Judgment
If you are awarded a judgment for money or the defendant signs a consent judgment, you may begin collection activities 22 days after the date the judgment was signed by the judge. Read more about options for collecting money.