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What are Missouri Family Court Records?
Missouri family court records are official documents containing information pertaining to the litigation processes of Missouri family courts. These records are generated and maintained by the record custodians of various judicial districts of the state. Family court records typically feature all information regarding family-related case hearings, including filed motions, court actions, and orders as well as the court's final verdicts and decrees. As per Missouri state laws, these records may be made available to interested and eligible persons upon request.
What Cases are Heard by Missouri Family Courts?
Missouri family courts are divisions of the state’s civil courts and are considered specialized courts of limited jurisdiction. They attend cases pertaining to family and probate matters excluding those of a criminal nature. As per Missouri statutes, these courts have jurisdiction over cases such as:
- Family-related disputes including matters of divorce and alimony, child custody and support as well as the termination of parental rights.
- Matters relating to guardianship and minor emancipation
- Domestic abuse, child/elder abuse, and neglect
- Matters pertaining to unique familial relationships and estate transfers, wills and trusts as it relates to families
The state of Missouri operates a three-tier judicial system wherein family courts function as one of the 7 divisions of the state circuit courts. As such, family court records are generated and disseminated by the office of the clerk of courts of various circuit courts in the state. However, when the verdict of a family court case is appealed at an appellate court or the supreme judicial court the most record of interest (containing the court’s most recent verdict) will likely be maintained and disseminated by the administrative division of the appellate court.
What is Included in Missouri Family Court Records?
Like most court records, family case records in Missouri are generated and maintained to provide an objective account of the family court proceedings. As such, family court records feature court case information and are typically unique to each case. Generally, family court records contain the personal information of the parties involved (i.e. the plaintiff and defendant) as well as details of the suit filed including details of the place and date the original complaint was made, evidence filed, and trial transcript which includes court actions and motions.
All family court records indicate the court’s final verdict of the case as well as conditions of any court-approved rights such as child custody and visitation. They also feature details of any agreed-upon financial settlements including alimony, child support as well as an injunction. Cases that include a jail term including details of the sentence while cases with appealed verdicts include details of the most current judgment typically issued by an appellate court.
Are Family Court Records Public in Missouri?
Pursuant to Missouri public records laws, the state judiciary provides public access to most court records. This includes all Missouri family court records which are deemed public as defined in Mo. Rev. Stat. § 610.010.6(6). Interested members of the public may request access to family court records from the appropriate record custodian. This includes details of most court proceedings as well as court actions and motions, judgments and financial settlements. However, given that the right of public access to court records is not absolute the following records are restricted:
- All confidential information sealed or closed on request of the parties involved in the case.
- All records of nolle pressed charges.
- Reports submitted by public welfare institutions and details of physical/mental health evaluations.
- All personal information of children/juveniles as well as assault and domestic violence/abuse victims.
- All information pertaining to the financial status of the persons involved in the suit -- this includes information disclosing their financial identities; i.e. their social security, credit card numbers and any related access codes.
As per Missouri state laws, these records may only be obtained by persons who meet the state’s eligibility requirements for accessing confidential records. This includes law enforcement agents and the legal representatives of the parties involved and persons who have been issued a court order or subpoena.
Family Court Records can include marriage records and divorce records. These records contain personal information of those involved and their maintenance is critical should anyone involved wish to make changes. Because of this both marriage and divorce records can be considered more difficult to locate and obtain than other public records, and may not be available through government sources or third party public record websites.
How Do I Get Family Court Records in Missouri?
As per federally-implemented laws, Missouri family court records can be accessed by interested and eligible persons through various state-run channels and third-party alternatives. The protocol for accessing these records depends primarily on the case, the record custodian and the method of retrieval. Generally, Missouri family court records may be obtained by:
- Using the state-operated online repositories and databases
- Making in-person requests
- Sending mail-in requests to the record custodian
- Using third-party aggregate sites
Both government websites and organizations may offer divorce and marriage records. Similarly, third party public record websites can also provide these types of records. But because third party organizations are not operated or sponsored by the government, record availability may vary. Further, marriage and divorce records are considered highly private and are often sealed, meaning availability of these types of records cannot be guaranteed.
How to Obtain Missouri Family Court Records Online
The state of Missouri provides varying online resources with which members of the public can obtain or view family court records. While most judicial districts of the state operate individual online databases, Missouri Case.Net and Missouri Judicial Records serve as central repositories for performing statewide searches for records of family cases heard within the state.
Missouri Judicial Records holds a variety of court records retrieved from the state supreme court, the appellate courts as well as the trial/county court and municipal courts.
Records can be requested from the MJR using the online research request form. Subsequent to completing this form, the requesting party must provide the required information regarding their record of interest. All requests attract a minimum charge of $1 per copy requested and an additional $0.25 per page for all subsequent pages.
Similarly, Missouri Case.Net is the state’s access to the Missouri court's automated case management system, which houses a variety of family court case information. However, only state courts that are part of the Missouri Court Automation Program have records which are accessible through Case.net. Using the tools available on this repository, interested persons can obtain court case information including docket entries, judgments, trial schedules, and court calendars.
To obtain family court records using this resource, the requesting party must provide all information required to facilitate the search. Searches can be performed using a case number, filing date, litigant name or trial/schedules.
Publicly available records are also accessible from some third-party websites. These websites offer the benefit of not being limited by geographical record availability and can often serve as a starting point when researching specific or multiple records. To find a record using the search engines on these sites, interested parties must provide:
- The name of someone involved providing it is a not a juvenile
- The assumed location of the record in question such as a city, county, or state name
Third-party sites are not government-sponsored websites, and record availability may differ from official channels.
How to Make in-person Requests for Missouri Family Records
An alternative to obtaining court records online, interested persons may also query the record custodians in person. In-person requests are especially recommended for obtaining full case information since restrictions are placed on the court case information accessible online. In order to obtain Missouri family court records in person, the requesting party is required to:
Find The Record Custodian
Missouri courts maintain separate record repositories. To obtain a family court record, interested persons are required to locate the jurisdiction where the case was filed/heard. Typically, the office of the clerk of courts of the trial, appellate or superior court serves as the record custodian. The location of a court record is primarily dependent on the most current status of the case.
Prepare the Required Information
To obtain a family court record, requestors are generally required to provide the information required to facilitate the record search. Typically, the information required includes the full name of the parties involved, the case file number of the record and details of the case filing. Additionally, requestors may be charged a nominal search/copy fee depending on the request made. Where the record is confidential, the requestor must also provide a court subpoena to access confidential or sealed information.
Making In-person Record Requests
Subsequent to locating the record custodian, the requesting party may proceed to query the office regarding the jurisdictions' unique requirements for accessing court records. The requestor may be required to schedule an appointment with the court clerk’s office beforehand. Requestors may be provided with a record request form indicating the information required to process their requestor. In addition to the required information, the requestor may be required to provide a government-issued photo ID to confirm their eligibility to access the record.
How to Access Missouri Family Court Records via Mail
Missouri family court records can also be requested by sending mail-in queries to the record custodian. Mail-in requests can be made by preparing a written request stating any information relevant for facilitating record searches. The information required includes the full name of the plaintiff/defendant the case file/docket number of the record as well as the personal information of the requestor. Record request forms may also be substituted for a written request.
Along with the request, the requesting party may be required to enclose a government-issued ID, a self-addressed envelope and any required payments. However, requestors are advised to contact the record custodian for elaborate information regarding the request procedure of the jurisdiction.
Specialized Family Court Records
Other than maintaining and disseminating records of family court cases and proceedings or trial transcripts, Missouri family courts generates and issues a variety of court decrees, orders, and records. These documents perform a variety of functions including legal authorization for marriage dissolutions, adoptions and child custody as well as will execution and the issuance of financial claims. Like court records, these documents may be made available to interested and eligible persons. However, the eligibility requirements for accessing these records generally varies.
How to Obtain Missouri Adoption Records
Pursuant to the Missouri Adoptee Rights Act reviewed in 2016, adoption records may be accessed by some eligible persons. This includes Missourian adoptees and their attorneys, birth parents, and descendants (lineal) of deceased adoptees. Requests for the adoptee's birth certificate are processed by the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services. To obtain this record, interested and eligible persons are required to download and complete the application form. Completed and notarized forms should be submitted along with the indicated fees and other requirements to:
Bureau of Vital Records
Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services
930 Wildwood Drive
P.O. Box 570
Jefferson City, MO 65109
Telephone: (573) 751-6387
How Do I Access Divorce Records in Missouri
Missouri Divorce Missouri is maintained and disseminated by state Bureau of Vital Records in Jefferson City as well as by the office of the circuit clerk of the state's various counties. While the state Bureau and the local circuit clerk offices all manage and issue copies of divorce decrees, divorce court records can only be obtained from the courthouse in which the proceedings took place and the divorce was granted.
To obtain a divorce decree interested persons are required to send a written request which must indicate relevant details of the divorce including the names of the parties involved, the date and place the initial filing was made as well as the court in which the decree was issued. Upon completing the request, the requesting party may deliver the query to the circuit clerk in the county where the divorce ensued or to the state Bureau of Vital Records.
How to Access Missouri Child Custody and Support Records
While records of child custody hearings and decrees may be obtained from the office of the clerk of courts in the courthouse where the case was tried, chill support documents are maintained and disseminated by the Missouri Department of Social Services. The requirement for access either record varies by case and the jurisdiction where the custody or support was issued. However, given that records containing the personal information of minors are not public record, only a few selected persons are eligible to access these records. This typically includes the subject of the record (i.e. the child) and the parents involved. To access these records, the subject must legally be an adult.