Sign In

CWS Toolkit IconPreliminary Hearing (MCR 3.965/MCL 712A.11)

A preliminary hearing is a court proceeding to determine if the court should authorize the filing of a petition for formal court action. A petition may be authorized if probable cause exists to believe one or more of the allegations in the petition are true. This initial stage of the legal decision-making process facilitates the following purposes:

  • Notify the parents of the allegations, their rights and procedures
  • Assess the risk to the child
  • Determine proper venue
  • Determine jurisdictional facts
  • Consider a request for immediate protective placement
  • Initiate the consideration of appropriate relative placements
  • Initiate the collection of medical information about the child
  • Assess pre-trial parenting time issues
  • Initiate the discovery process
  • Inquire as to American Indian membership or eligibility to determine the application of the federal Indian Child Welfare Act and the Michigan Indian Family Preservation Act


A judge, attorney referee, or nonattorney referee may conduct a preliminary hearing. The court makes two chief decisions at a preliminary hearing: whether to authorize the filing of the petition, and if so, whether to order pretrial placement of the child. For the case to be considered for Title IV-E funding, the first court order authorizing the removal of the child from the home must include: (1) a finding that it is contrary to the child’s welfare to remain in the home, and the reasons why; (2) placement with DHS for care and supervision; and when possible (3) the reasonable efforts made to maintain the child in the home (the reasonable efforts finding must be made within 60 days of removal; however, best practice is to make the finding at the time of removal).


 Toolkit Information

Petition Requirements (procedural issue)
Service of Process (procedural issue)
Notice (procedural issue)
Appointment of Counsel (procedural issue)
Appointment of L-GAL (procedural issue)
Placement of Child(ren) (procedural issue)
Review of Referee Recommendations (procedural issue)
Roles and Responsibilities
Statutes, Court Rules, DHS Policies
MJI Child Protective Proceedings Benchbook--Preliminary Hearing

 Publications & Administrative Memos

Archived Materials and Upcoming Programs

 Court Forms

Petition: Child Protective Proceedings (JC04b)
Request and Order for Appointed Attorney (JC102)
Order Appointing Attorney/L-GAL/GAL (JC03)
Order After Preliminary Hearing (JC11a)
Ex Parte Order to Take Children into Protective Custody (JC05b)
Waiver of Summons/Notice of Hearing (JC23)
Request and Order for Review of Referee Recommendation (JC42)

 Training Information

Archived Materials and Upcoming Programs