How to Obtain Court Records in Texas
Municipal courts and justice courts are at the bottom of the Texas judiciary as courts of limited jurisdiction. Located in nearly every city, the justice courts handle small claims issues under $10,000 and other minor civil concerns while the municipal courts are responsible for violations of municipal ordinances and misdemeanors.
Above these are county courts with limited jurisdiction, including a probate division that handles wills and estates, a constitutional division that handles lawsuits up to $10,000 in value, juvenile cases, and criminal cases that may result in fines above $500 or jail terms. The statutory county court may handle lawsuits up to $200,000 in value.
District courts are the next level in the Texas judiciary with jurisdiction over property rights, divorce, felony criminal cases, lawsuits over $200, and juvenile cases. These 469 courts are often designated as criminal or civil divisions.
Above district courts are 14 regional appellate courts and one criminal appellate court. The court of criminal appeals is the final stop for all criminal cases. These bodies hear cases from both district courts and county courts. At the top of the Texas judiciary is the state supreme court, which takes only civil appeals from lower courts.
Requesting Texas court documents
If you need to prove you’ve paid a fine, to show that you have authority to evict a tenant, to get help enforcing a protective order, or want to claim property that you inherited, you may need an official court document. This search engine will help you find basic information about cases, including the names of people involved: http://www.search.txcourts.gov/CaseSearch.aspx?coa=cossup&s=c. Once you have that information you should contact the clerk of the court where the case was heard using this directory: http://card.txcourts.gov/DirectorySearch.aspx.
When a marriage is dissolved, a decree is issued to define the process, including the division of shared property, child custody, and alimony. The decree can be important to have when issues or disagreements arise. Contact the clerk of the court where the divorce was granted to get a copy: http://card.txcourts.gov/DirectorySearch.aspx.
Inherited property and assets are usually processed by a probate court before they are passed along. Probate courts are generally responsible for wills, estates, adoptions, guardianships, and mental health issues. To learn more about a probate case, search for details here: http://www.search.txcourts.gov/CaseSearch.aspx?coa=cossup&s=c. When you get the basic information, contact the clerk of the court where the case was handled to get documents: http://card.txcourts.gov/DirectorySearch.aspx.
Federal courts are located in every state. These U.S. District Courts handle criminal trials and multi-state lawsuits as well as shepherding individuals and businesses through the bankruptcy process. To research any of these cases, go to www.pacer.gov.