How to Obtain Court Records in New Jersey
New Jersey has many small courts – 539 municipal courts, in fact, which handle traffic violations, misdemeanors, and violations of municipal ordinances (things like trespassing, loud music, etc.). The other court of limited jurisdiction is tax court.
Each of the state’s 21 counties hosts a superior court, where all of the civil and criminal trials take place. Superior courts also handle family cases (divorce, custody, juvenile, etc.). Above the trial courts are two layers of appeals courts, the intermediate appellate court and the state supreme court. The intermediate appellate court hears disputes over decisions made in trial courts and administrative agencies like tax court, worker’s compensation board, and others. The state supreme court hears death row appeal, weighs in on the constitutionality of state laws, and oversees the state bar.
Obtaining court records
There are many situations in which having a copy of a court document or record can be helpful, including when you seek payment on a court-ordered financial settlement, when child custody is in question, and when you need a protection order enforced.
In order to search for or get a copy of a court document, here is one place to start for online records: http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/courts/superior/eap.html. Once you have the details of the case number and dates, you may simply try to contact the clerk of the court where the case was heard using this directory: http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/public/courthouses.html.
Some records may be restricted due to confidentiality of the contents, such as juvenile court records or those that contain medical information or the names of victims of sex crimes.
Having a copy of your divorce decree can be important to understanding and executing the division of shared property, child custody, or a name change. A divorce decree can also aid in future financial applications, housing eligibility, and student status. To get a copy of your divorce decree, contact the circuit court where your divorce was granted using this directory: http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/public/courthouses.html.
When a person dies, his or her property is divided among heirs (if any) with the oversight of a probate court official. Probate courts also manage adoptions, guardianships, mental health commitments, and other issues in most states. To research probate records in New Jersey, find out if the documents are online through this site http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/courts/superior/eap.html or contact the clerk of the circuit court where the individual lived by using this directory: http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/public/courthouses.html.
State courts do not oversee bankruptcies, federal courts do. These U.S. District Courts are located in each state and also try criminal cases and class action suits that involve residents of multiple states. To research and request records from federal courts, use this link: www.pacer.gov.