2. Civil Court Cases

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Defendant / Plaintiff 

Address of Court 

Date and Time

Records for Civil Court Cases

Civil court records include such cases as small claims, probate, real property disputes, family and divorce or contract arguments. In general, a case is considered a civil matter if it does not concern breaking a criminal law or threatening the safety of society. Records of these types of cases can help to verify the status of a child custody or property division agreement as part of a final divorce decree, contested wills, adoptions and small claims judgments.

Classification of Civil Cases

Each type of civil case is assigned to a specific court depending upon the estimated worth of the claim at stake. Businesses and individuals filing claims of damages may be assigned to a small claims court, limited jurisdiction or general jurisdiction court. Larger cases may be heard directly by a state’s Superior or Supreme Court.

Federal civil cases include those which cross state lines, or involve a claim between two states. In addition, a local or state government body may file civil suit against a federal agency that will automatically become federal jurisdiction. Civil cases may also be appealed to the federal level courts.

Records of Civil Cases

Records from these cases are maintained by the corresponding local, state or federal court which presides over them. Each court maintains its own rules and processes for accessing these records. Typically, they may be requested in person or found online through the court’s website or a public search engine.

Information in Civil Case Records

Records maintained from civil cases will include the names of the parties involved, including attorneys and judges presiding. However, any minors involved or personal identifying information such as Social Security numbers are typically barred from public access. Some cases will be ordered sealed by the presiding judge, effectively preventing the ability to access this information unless you happen to be party to the case.

Dates of the case, charges, hearings, minutes, causes of action and all claims and arguments are included in case files. If a settlement was reached and approved by the court or a judgment was awarded, this information is also included in the case file.

It may be necessary to first search through the correct court’s docket files or index to find the case number. Without this number, you will only be able to search via a person or business’s name or a range of dates that the case was active.

Uses for Civil Case Records

State and federal civil court cases are often referred to by attorneys in court arguments, judges in opinions and even students and civilians when interpreting the law. A higher court’s decision in a case will frequently be used in similar cases in the future, especially if the presiding judge interpreted the applicable laws differently than past justices. These records may also be necessary to prove conditions of your divorce or a settlement you were party to.

Records from civil cases are generally easy to access, and can be useful in a variety of settings. Simply begin by performing a general Internet search to find identifying information needed, then access specific file documents associated with the case you may be looking for.

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