New Jersey Court Records
Where To Find Family Court Records In New Jersey?
New Jersey family court is a subdivision of the Administrative Office of the Courts, which is a division of the trial court services. The family court handles family cases, including child support, divorce, custody, paternity, and other family or family relationship matters. The family court division also contributes to policy development and implementation on county and state levels.
The records contained in documents related to family court include both marriage and divorce records. Both types of records have information that is considered very personal to the parties involved, and 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 New Jersey?
New Jersey family law encompasses different areas that concern the family and family structure, including:
- Marriage: NJ Rev Stat §37 outlines the state rules on marriage processes and licenses, such as where marriage licenses are obtained. The statute also outlines the law on prohibited marriages and marriage validity. For instance, a person may not marry any relation, as such marriages will automatically be void. The statute also covers premarital agreements and other contracts involving married persons.
- Divorce and annulment: NJ Rev Stat §2A: 34–2 states the grounds for divorce in New Jersey, including separation, adultery, and irreconcilable differences. Conditions for the annulment of a marriage are listed in NJ Rev Stat §2A: 34–1. The provisions include underage marriage, prohibited marriages, and a lack of capacity or understanding.
- Adoption: New Jersey adoption laws are listed in NJ Rev Stat §9. The statute covers the cost and conditions for adoption. It also covers regulations for adoption agencies, including employee requirements and adoption record provisions.
- Paternity: NJ Rev Stat §9:17–52 highlights acceptable paternity evidence
- Child Custody and Support: NJ Rev Stat §2A:34 covers custody processes and determination, custody jurisdiction, visitation rights, violations and penalties, escape, abuse, abandonment and neglect, the roles of public officials, and other matters that pertain to the custody and support of children under 18.
- Legal guardianship: NJ Rev Stat §3B addresses legal guardians’ designation and the duties and rights of legal guardians.
- Parental rights: NJ Rev Stat §30:4C addresses the standards and order to terminate parental rights, child placement plans, and other requirements.
- Juvenile relations: NJ Rev Stat §2A:4A–21 addresses juvenile delinquency, court hearings, and juvenile custody.
What Are Family Court Cases And Records In New Jersey?
In New Jersey, family court records are records of all cases in the family court’s jurisdiction. These include:
- Domestic violence
- Child support
- Foster care placement
- Juvenile delinquency and juvenile records
- Legal guardianship
- Parental rights
- Abuse and neglect
- Child custody
Are Family Court Cases Public Records In New Jersey?
Except for adoption records, which are automatically sealed and inaccessible to unauthorized persons, family court records are public in New Jersey. According to the Open Public Records Act (OPRA), records maintained by government agencies are subject to public inspection unless the court exempts the documents from the OPRA. Exemptions to the public records act protect individual privacy, trade secrets, criminal investigations, legislative records, public employees, and other records listed under the OPRA exemptions.
If eligible, a record subject may file certain information as confidential to limit public access to the information or record. Alternatively, such persons may file a motion with the court to seal the record. Sealed records are only accessible to authorized persons, such as parties named on the record, legal representatives of the named parties, or other persons authorized by court order.
How Do I Find Family Court Records In New Jersey?
Family court records may be obtained from the county’s courthouse that heard the case. Requests for public records may be made in person at the courthouse, by email, or by mail. Completed Records Requests forms and other inquiries can be sent by email to Scco.Mailbox@njcourts.gov. Interested persons may also submit written requests by mail to:
R. J. Hughes Justice Complex
Superior Court Clerk’s Office
P. O. Box 971
Trenton, NJ 08625–0971
Interested persons may also submit requests to local courts in the county where the case was heard or filed. In addition to written submissions, requesting parties must also submit stamped, business-sized envelopes to facilitate quick search results return. Fees will apply for the production of record copies. Depending on the type of document required, prices may range from $0.5 to $60. Plain copies of family court records are produced at $0.5 per page, while certified copies cost $15. Sealed documents cost $10, exemplified copies cost $50, and triple exemplified copies cost $60. Parties can make payments with money order or checks made payable to ‘Treasurer-State of New Jersey.’ Cash payments are only accepted in person.
How Do I Find Family Court Records Online?
The New Jersey Courts website provides electronic access to family court records through the Family Automated Case Tracking System (FACTS) of the Electronic Access Program (EAP). The sum of $4 is charged for every minute spent on the EAP. Access to the EAP is free for individual court users. Users may initiate family court records search using:
- Docket number
- Judgment number
The EAP does not contain actual records; it only provides access to other case information such as case status, orders entered, list of litigants, associated lawyers, dispositions, proceedings scheduled, and the documents filed. New users of the EAP are required to enroll. The FAQ section provides more information about the requirements and use of the portal.
What Is New Jersey Custody Law?
Title 9 of the New Jersey Revised Statutes addresses custody laws in the state. There are two types of custody arrangements in New Jersey:
- Legal custody: a child’s legal custodian makes decisions that pertain to raising the child
- Physical custody: a child will spend time and likely live with the parent or other person who has physical custody
In New Jersey, the primary consideration in determining custody rights is the child’s best interests. If the child is old enough (aged 12 or older), the child’s wishes may also be considered. Other factors considered include:
- The physical, financial, and mental capability of the parents to care for the child
- The child’s relationship with siblings and other family members
- Any history of violence or abuse
- The relationship between both parents, whether the parents can communicate and cooperate for the best interests of the child
Types of custody in New Jersey include:
- Joint custody: Except if it has been proven otherwise, the court assumes that children will have a healthy upbringing if both parents raise them. In joint custody, both parents have equal custody rights and work together to decide on the child’s behalf. The child may live with one parent and spend time with the other parent. Alternatively, the parents may work out an arrangement in which the child alternates between both parents’ houses.
- Sole custody: in a sole custody arrangement, the child lives with the custodial parent, and the non-custodial parent is required to pay child support. The custodial parent is also responsible for making decisions that pertain to raising the child. In sole custody arrangements, the custodial parent may not keep the child from the non-custodial parent.
Other custody arrangements may apply if the court determines that the structure is in the child’s best interest. For example, the parents may share legal custody but not physical custody. One parent may also be the legal custodian while the other is the physical custodian. Additionally, siblings or grandparents may request visitation rights by applying to the Supreme Court. If the court determines that the visitation is in the child’s best interest, the court may grant the right, even if the custodial parent disagrees.
How To Find Family Court Lawyers In New Jersey?
Court clerks may be able to provide helpful information on where to find family court lawyers. The New Jersey Bar Associations may also provide search tools that users can employ to search for family court lawyers. Apart from directory services, bar associations in New Jersey provide legal advice to interested parties. Consequently, parties interested in finding family court lawyers in New Jersey may seek assistance from local court clerks or bar associations.