Missouri Court Records
Where to Find Family Court Records in Missouri?
The Juvenile and Family Court Divisions of the Circuit Courts are responsible for managing and disseminating family court records in Missouri. These courts have exclusive jurisdiction over hild custody cases, child abuse, domestic violence, marriage, and other domestic-related matters. Members of the public may obtain family court records from the clerk’s office at the courthouse the family case was filed. Typically, requirements to obtain family court records vary from one county to another.
The records contained in documents related to family court include both marriage and divorce records. Both types of records contain information that is considered very personal to the parties involved. It is recommended that those parties maintain these records with care to make changes in the future. The personal nature of these records results in both being considerably more difficult to find and obtain when compared to other types of public records. In many cases, these records are not available through either government sources or third party public record websites.
What Is Family Law In Missouri?
Missouri State Family Law governs the judicial procedures in domestic relations proceedings. This law codified under Chapters 451—455 of the Missouri Revisor of Statutes features the following:
- Marriage: Chapter 451 of the state laws focuses on issues concerning marriage, marriage contracts, and rights of married persons. The statute covers issues on valid and informal marriages, acknowledgment and recording of marriage contracts, and the rights of married persons.
- Divorce: The Missouri Divorce Statute centers on matters involving the dissolution of marriage, divorce, alimony, child custody, and other issues that may arise thereof.
- Adoption: The Missouri Adoption and Foster Care Statute contain the adoption requirements and procedures in the state. It also covers the role of agencies such as Social Services in adoption processes.
- Enforcement of Support Law: This law contains child support payment provisions in the state. This law also protects physical sole custodians by ensuring back supports are not owed.
What Are Family Court Cases and Records in Missouri?
Missouri Family Courts hear different kinds of domestic-related cases. These cases can include:
- Child Custody
- Child abuse
- Juvenile delinquency cases
- Dependency cases
- Domestic violence cases
Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
- The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that a person resides in or was accused in.
Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.
Are Family Court Cases Public Records in Missouri?
Under the Missouri Sunshine Law, records of family court cases are information that members of the public may access. Interested persons can obtain family court records such as divorce records, marriage records, among others. However, persons looking to obtain Missouri family court records should note that some records are not available to the public. State law excludes juvenile court records from the public domain.
How Do I Find Family Court Records in Missouri?
Each county in Missouri has a circuit court, and interested persons may request records from the court clerk. Use the courthouse Find a Court directory page to locate the appropriate court of interest. Typically, these records are available from the clerk in-person or via mail. However, the court may require payment of certain fees and provision of picture identification before a record will be released to a requester. The procedures for obtaining court records vary across counties. As such, it is recommended to contact the appropriate clerk to ascertain the requirements and actual fees to be paid before proceeding to the courthouse or sending a mail request.
Note that the above procedures are for public records only. Those interested in obtaining sealed family court records must first procure a court order or subpoena from a state-licensed judge.
Divorce and marriage records may be available through government sources and organizations, though their availability cannot be guaranteed. This is also true of their availability through third-party websites and companies, as these organizations are not government-sponsored and record availability may vary further. Finally, marriage and divorce records are considered extremely private due to the information they contain, and are often sealed. Bearing these factors in mind, record availability for these types of records cannot be guaranteed.
How Do I Find Family Court Records Online?
The Missouri State Judiciary provides court records, including family court records, through its extensive case search portal—Case.net. Searching this portal requires case number, filing date, litigant’s name, scheduled hearing, or judgment index. Users are advised to select the specific county circuit court from the hang-down menu for better search results.
What Is Missouri Custody Law?
The Missouri Custody Law features the legal process of determining the custody of minors in dissolutions of marriages. Types of custody recognized under Missouri laws are:
- Joint legal custody: This means that the parents split the decision-making rights and responsibilities related to the child’s welfare.
- Joint physical custody: An order of joint physical custody gives each parent a particular period in which they may reside and be under their respective cares.
- Sole legal custody: This furnishes the decision rights to only one parent, without interference from the other parent.
- Sole physical custody: A parent awarded sole physical custody has the principal responsibility of caring for and supervising the child. In such cases, the non-custodial parent may be denied access to the child or require special visitation permission from the custodial parent.
Generally, the court considers some factors before granting custody. This is to ensure that its decision is in the best interest of the child. Some factors may be considered by family court judges include:
- The parenting plans and objectives submitted by both parties
- The relationship between the child and each parent as well as the effect of such interactions
- The need for a child to continue having a relationship with the parents and the willingness of each parent to perform their parental roles
- The child’s response to the school, home, and the community, the parents, live in
- The willingness of one parent to let the child continue having a frequent relationship with the other parent
- Mental and physical health status of both parents. The court also checks if a party has suffered from domestic violence from another.
- The possibility of either parent relocating the child’s primary residence
Following the state’s Visitation Statute, every non-custodial parent is entitled to visitation time except when established that the visitation would endanger the child’s physical or mental health. Parents convicted of sexual crimes such as incest, rape, genital mutilation, and child pornography are generally denied physical access to minors. The court may also grant supervised visitation rights to parents guilty of certain offenses where the victim is a child. In supervised visitations, a responsible adult assigned by the court must be present during visitation periods for the child’s safety.
How to Find Family Court Lawyers in Missouri?
Persons looking to hire licensed and experienced family court lawyers in Missouri can refer to the Finding and Hiring a Lawyer Section of the Missouri Court Website. The Missouri State Bar features a Lawyer Search Tool where residents can find lawyers in specific practice areas. The Missouri Department of Social Services also provides a similar Find-a-Lawyer tool on its webpage.