How to Obtain Court Records in North Carolina
North Carolina’s court system includes courts with general jurisdiction and courts with special jurisdiction. District courts are the trial courts that have separate divisions for juvenile, magistrate (traffic and misdemeanor), civil and criminal proceedings. Specialty courts handle family matters like divorce, custody, and juvenile cases; business court handles corporate issues; and drug court attempts to divert people from becoming career criminals through drug treatment and education.
Superior courts hear felony criminal cases, civil cases with more than $10,000 at stake, probate matters, and appeals of district court cases. There are two layers of appellate courts, the intermediate court of appeals which hears disputes of lower court decisions and administrative agencies, and the state supreme court which decides questions of law that arise in the lower courts.
Obtaining court records
Copies of court documents can be helpful to keep on hand, including as proof that a fine was paid, to get a protection order enforced, to show that your term of probation or parole was completed, or to get a financial settlement ordered by a judge.
North Carolina courts do not appear to have any online method for searching records or requesting copies. Contact the clerk of the court where the case was conducted to get the documents you require. This page will help to identify the appropriate clerk to contact: http://www.nccourts.org/Courts/CRS/NCMap/Courthouse.asp.
Be aware that some court documents may not be available due to confidentiality concerns, including juvenile records, documents that contain sensitive medical information, or the names of crime victims.
A divorce decree provides a detailed summary of the agreement a couple makes when they divorce, including the division of assets and property, custody and support of children, alimony, and any name change. To request a copy of your divorce decree, contact the clerk of the court where the divorce was granted using this page: http://www.nccourts.org/Courts/CRS/NCMap/Courthouse.asp.
When a person dies, a probate judge oversees the division of his property and assets to his heirs (if any). Some probate courts also have jurisdiction over guardianships, mental health cases, and adoptions. To request copies of records related to probate court, contact the clerk of the superior court in the county where the person lived using this page: http://www.nccourts.org/Courts/CRS/NCMap/Courthouse.asp.
U.S. District Courts have jurisdiction over bankruptcy cases, state courts do not. These federal courts are located in every state and also have jurisdiction over federal criminal trials and lawsuits involving residents of multiple states. To search for federal court records, see www.pacer.gov.