How to Obtain Court Records in Rhode Island
Rhode Island’s district courts are the local courts where small claims cases under $10,000 and misdemeanor issues are heard; no trials are held here. Below district courts are family courts, worker’s compensation courts, and the traffic tribunal. Many municipal courts can be found across the state as well.
Superior court is the trial court, handling all civil and criminal matters. Above the superior court is the supreme court, the only appellate court in the state.
Obtaining court records
Whether you need to prove a fine has been paid, to get a child custody issue resolved, to receive a settlement following a lawsuit, or evidence that you’ve taken a court-mandated course and completed your probation, court documents are very useful.
To find the document you need, start by searching here: https://publicportal.courts.ri.gov/PublicPortal/. The result is unlikely to include any documents, but using the case number you may request records through the clerk of the court where the case was heard. This page may help locate the correct clerk: https://www.courts.ri.gov/Courts/SuperiorCourt/Pages/Contact%20Information.aspx.
Probate courts are specialized departments that deal with estates and wills, guardianships, adoptions, and name changes. When a person dies, the probate court oversees the process of dividing his or her property and assets among heirs. To research probate records, start here: https://publicportal.courts.ri.gov/PublicPortal/, then contact the clerk of the probate division where the person lived to request documents.
When a marriage ends in divorce the presiding judge ensures that both parties have agreed to a divorce decree that details the division of shared assets, care of children, name changes, and other details. A copy of this document can be helpful if disagreement arises. To get a copy, request one from the clerk of the family court where the divorce was finalized by starting here: https://www.courts.ri.gov/Courts/FamilyCourt/Pages/default.aspx.
Businesses and individuals that are overwhelmed by debt often declare bankruptcy. It’s a legal process of paying off creditors that’s overseen by a federal court, not a state court. Each state has at least one federal court that handles civil and criminal cases. To find the record of such a case, start with www.pacer.gov.