How to Obtain Court Records in Montana
Montana has several courts of limited jurisdiction, including justice courts, city courts, and municipal courts that handle traffic issues, misdemeanors, certain civil lawsuits, landlord-tenant disputes, and small claims up to $7,000 in value. At the next level, district courts handle civil, criminal, and family court issues (juvenile, mental health, divorce), and civil appeals from lower courts.
Water court and worker’s compensation courts are also limited-jurisdiction venues that do not conduct trials.
At the top of the Montana judiciary is the state supreme court, which may hear original cases as well as appeals of lower court cases. The supreme court has final say over the constitutionality of state laws and oversees the state bar and judiciary.
Requesting court records
There are many instances when having an official court record could be helpful, such as getting a protection order enforced, collecting a court-ordered settlement, clarifying child custody, or proving that you’ve completed the terms of a court-ordered probationary or parole period. Be aware that some court records are considered confidential due to the inclusion of names of victims of certain crimes, medical information, or juvenile cases. Requests for these records may be refused or the information redacted.
Montana does not currently offer an online option for searching court records. Use the directory on this page to find the court where the case was heard, and contact the clerk for instructions on ordering copies of important case documents: http://courts.mt.gov/locator.
Having a copy of your divorce decree can help untangle issues around child custody, name changes, applying for financial aid, and more. A divorce decree spells out the division of property and other terms of dissolution following a marriage. To get a copy of your decree, contact the clerk of the district court where the divorce was granted using this page: http://courts.mt.gov/locator.
When a person dies, probate court officials oversee the division of property to heirs (if any). Many probate courts also have jurisdiction over guardianships, adoptions, and other matters. To request a copy of a probate court record, contact the clerk of the district court where the individual lived using this link: http://courts.mt.gov/locator.
State courts do not have jurisdiction over bankruptcies; they are handled by U.S. District Courts (federal) within the state. Federal courts also prosecute crimes and deal with lawsuits between states. To research a bankruptcy or other federal case, use this link: https://www.pacer.gov/.