What is E-Filing?

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This e-filing resource was developed by Michigan's State Court Administrative Office (SCAO) in collaboration with Michigan Legal Help. 

Courts in Michigan are beginning to accept and may require court forms to be e-filed. Read this article to learn more.

What is E-Filing?

E-filing is short for “electronic filing.” It is the process of filing court papers using a computer instead of handing them to a court clerk in person. Michigan uses a software system called MiFILE for the e-filing process. You can access the MiFILE website on any computer with Internet access.

Do I Have to E-File?

All Michigan courts will eventually use e-filing for most types of cases. Right now only some courts use e-filing, and in those courts only some cases are required to be e-filed. Also, some types of cases cannot be e-filed yet. The State Court Administrative Office keeps a chart of courts that use e-filing. Please note that even if your court has e-filing available, they might not offer it for your particular case type yet. The chart lists the types of cases that can be e-filed in different courts. To find out if your case must be e-filed, you will need to know the case-type code. The case-type code is a two-letter code at the end of the court case number. For more information about case-type codes read How to Find a Case-Type Code.

If you are required to e-file for your type of case, it generally means that you have to use MiFILE to start your case and to file forms later in your case. It also means that you will not get notifications related to your court case in the regular mail. Instead, you will get them by e-mail or text message.

Can I Get an Exemption from E-Filing?

If you find out you are required to e-file but are not able to use MiFILE, you can ask for permission to file paper forms. This is called getting an exemption from e-filing. If any of these things apply to you, the judge will give you an exemption from e-filing if you ask for one:

  • You have a disability that keeps you from using MiFILE
  • You speak limited English and this keeps you from using MiFILE
  • You are being detained by the government, such as in a jail or mental health facility

If none of the situations above apply to you, you will need to show good cause (good reasons) for an exemption. The factors the judge will consider when deciding if you have good cause are:

  • You do not have reliable access to an electronic device with the internet
  • You can't access MiFILE from home, and you have limited access to transportation or would have to to travel a long way to use a public computer
  • You do not know how to use and understand e-mail and MiFILE
  • E-filing at home or on a public computer would be unsafe for you because of domestic violence or another reason
  • Any other relevant factor you raise

If you want to ask for an exemption from e-filing, complete the Request for Exemption from MiFILE form. File it with the court at the same time that you file the other court papers you need to file. The judge will make a decision about the exemption within two business days. If the judge gives you an exemption from e-filing, you may file paper documents with the court for the rest of the case. The exemption only applies to one case. If you have multiple cases or another case in the future, you will need to ask for an exemption in each case.

If the judge denies the exemption, you must sign up for MiFILE and e-file for the rest of the case. 

What Do I Need to Do Before I E-File Forms in My Case?

You will need a MiFILE account to submit forms to the court. To get started, visit the MiFILE website and click “Sign Up” in the upper right corner. Creating an account is free.

You need an e-mail address to sign up for MiFILE. This e-mail address will be used to log in to MiFILE. Do not use an e-mail address that you share with others or an e-mail address that you do not check often. You will be notified about your case by e-mail, but you can also choose to get a text message. If you choose to be notified by text message and your cell phone service is turned off or interrupted, you may not get important court information. You will not get papers related to court cases through the regular mail.

If you need an e-mail address, you can get one for free on many websites, including:

Are There Fees for E-Filing?

Signing up for MiFILE is free but there are filing fees for many cases. For some filings there is also an e-filing system fee. This e-filing system fee is collected on e-filed and paper-filed cases when a new case is filed. This means that even if you are exempt from e-filing you will have to pay the e-filing system fee.

If you can’t afford to pay fees, use the Do-It-Yourself Fee Waiver tool to ask for permission to file without paying fees. Read Fee Waivers in Court Cases to learn more about whether you might qualify for a fee waiver.

If you are not asking for a fee waiver, you will pay fees online through MiFILE when you submit your forms. MiFILE currently only accepts credit cards as payment.

If you need to pay fees on MiFILE and do not have a credit card, you can use a prepaid MasterCard, Visa, American Express, or Discover Card. If you are using a prepaid card, you will need to have the entire fee on one card. You can’t use multiple cards to pay for a filing. Save the prepaid card after you file even if the balance is zero. If your filing is rejected or fees are refunded for any other reason, they will go back on the card that you used. This can take several days, and if you throw away the card you will not have access to the refunded fees.

If you do not have access to a credit card or prepaid card, you can bring your forms in person to the court to pay with cash, check, or money order.

Where Can I Get Help with E-Filing?

Some people might want help e-filing, especially if they have never done it before. Contact the court where you will file to find out if they have computers, scanners, or staff available to help with the e-filing process.

You can also look for a Self-Help Center near you by visiting the Self-Help Center page and choosing your county in the top right corner.

If you have a technical issue with the MiFILE system, click “Contact Support” in the lower right corner of your MiFILE screen.