What are Arizona Family Court Records?
Arizona family court records are official documents pertaining to the legal processes and court proceedings of family courts within the jurisdiction of the state. These documents typically contain information regarding cases/suits heard by the courts, including motions filed, court actions, judgments and court decrees delivered following each trial or hearing. In compliance with Arizona state laws, these records may be made available to interested members of the public upon request.
What Cases are Heard by Arizona Family Courts?
Arizona family courts are often operated by the state’s civil courts, which typically resolve non-criminal cases involving persons, institutions or organizations and more often than not, require monetary compensation or financial remuneration. Family courts are specially designed for hearing family-related/domestic matters such as:
- Juvenile matters: including allegations of child abuse, neglect and illegal behavior of underage persons
- Guardianship related matters, paternity suits, and child custody cases
- Marriage dissolution cases including annulment, separation agreements requiring property or alimony agreements.
- Emancipation and domestic violence cases.
What is Included in Arizona Family Court Records?
Like most court records, family court records feature general information regarding the case/suit as well as details of the court proceedings. This typically includes the personal information of the plaintiff and defendant, as well as the names of any witnesses and juveniles relevant to the case. Also included in these records are details of the place and date of filing, any evidence filed by either party, motions and court actions filed during the course of the proceedings as well as details of the court's final judgment/decree. Most records include any agreed-upon financial settlements, conditions of separation or annulment, alimony, shared child custody, and protective orders.
Are Family Court Records Public in Arizona?
Following the establishment of Arizona’s Public Records Law, all court processes are documented and available to interested members of the public upon request. However, according to the law’s provisions, some restrictions are placed on the availability of specific information. Confidential family court record information includes:
- Information regarding juvenile or children under dispute
- Details of financial information such as bank account statements, social security numbers, and related financial data filed as evidence during the proceedings.
- Information relating to mental health or involving details of the psychological evaluation
- Details of adoption, child custody, and paternity proceedings
- Information regarding domestic violence and protection order details
While most family court records can be obtained on request or by using any of the available public resources, confidential family court record information often requires a court order/subpoena. However, legal representatives of the subject(s) and law enforcement officers typically have legal authorization to access most records.
Family Court Records can include marriage records and divorce records. These records contain personal information of those involved and their maintenance is critical should anyone involved wish to make changes. Because of this both marriage and divorce records can be considered more difficult to locate and obtain than other public records, and may not be available through government sources or third party public record websites.
How Do I Get Family Court Records in Arizona?
The state of Arizona provides a variety of channels through which family court records may be accessed by interested persons. Primarily, family court records are managed and disseminated by the court’s general jurisdiction which is the Superior court divided into multiple state trial courts. Most records can be accessed from the court clerk’s office of the various courts or by using any of the online or self-service resources provided by the court were the case was heard. Essentially, Arizona family court records can be obtained by:
- Using the states online resources
- Querying the record custodian via mail
- Using third-party aggregate sites
- Making in-person requests to the office of the clerk of courts (in the courthouse were the case was heard)
How to Obtain Arizona Family Court Records Online
While most courts in Arizona operate a case search tool for accessing court information, the state of Arizona operates a statewide judicial case search. The Arizona Judicial Branch serves as a central repository and resource for court information from 177 courts in Arizona. Online case searches may also be conducted using the Public Access Case Lookup which requires that each user furnish the tool with details of the record of interest. Users must provide the first/last name or business name of the plaintiff/defendant as well as their birth month and the name of the court where the case was heard. Otherwise, records may be searched by case number and the court name. However, while some cases in which juveniles are involved (such as traffic cases) may be accessible using the online resources, specific case types are excluded. Restricted case information often includes victim and witness information, as well as information regarding sealed cases, and cases in which there is an un-issued protection order, mental health cases, and select delinquency cases.
Additionally, interested persons may opt to subscribe to the case notification feature which alerts users to noteworthy changes regarding their indicated cases of interest. However, this feature is available to only participating courts, and all notifications are typically sent via email.
Publicly available records are accessible from some third-party websites. These websites offer the benefit of not being limited by geographical record availability and can often serve as a starting point when researching specific or multiple records. To find a record using the search engines on these sites, interested parties must provide:
- The name of someone involved providing it is a not a juvenile
- The assumed location of the record in question such as a city, county, or state name
Third party sites are not government sponsored websites, and record availability may differ from official channels.
How to Obtain Arizona Family Court Records In Person
To obtain Arizona family court records in person, interested persons may locate the courthouse where the case was filed/heard and query the office of the clerk of courts. In most cases, the requesting party will be required to also obtain the required legal authority if the record of interest contains confidential information. Generally, most confidential information can only be accessed by making in-person requests. This is also true for some trial transcripts and mental health related records presented during the course of the proceedings.
Once found, the official court record custodian may be queried during official working hours. Requestors are generally required to provide details of the required record including the names of the parties involved, the case file number and/or docket information, and the date the case was filed or judgment delivered. Additionally, the requesting party may also be required to cover the cost of their request as well as present a government-issued ID and any other relevant documents required to validate their request.
How to Obtain Arizona Family Records Via Mail
Arizona family court records may also be accessed by making mail-in requests to the courthouse where the case was filed/heard. To request a record via mail, interested requestors are advised to inquire about the requirements for making these requests from the clerk of the concerned court. In most cases, mail-in requests require that the requestor prepare a written request containing information regarding the parties involved as well as general case information. Requestors may also be required to enclose a copy of their government-issued ID, a cheque or money order receipt for any indicated fees and a self-addressed envelope.
Both government websites and organizations may offer divorce and marriage records. Similarly, third party public record websites can also provide these types of records. But because third party organizations are not operated or sponsored by the government, record availability may vary. Further, marriage and divorce records are considered highly private and are often sealed, meaning availability of these types of records cannot be guaranteed.
Specialized Family Court Records In Arizona
Arizona family courts maintain a variety of specialized records and decrees along with records of court-proceedings and trial transcripts in family-case hearings. These specialized records include decrees of marriage dissolutions as well as judgements pertaining to child custody, adoptions and the execution of wills as well as other financial claims. Like other records, specialized family court records may be accessed by interested and eligible persons. However, the eligibility requirements for obtaining these records generally varies with the information contained in the record.
How to Access Adoption Records In Arizona
Arizona adoption records are generated and maintained by the state’s vital records office. However, being a closed records state, Arizona state law only permits selected individuals to access these records including adult adoptees and legally authorized intermediaries. To request adoption records, interested and eligible persons may make in-person requests to the state vital records office. The requesting party will be required to verify their eligibility by presenting a government-issued ID, or court order/subpoena. In addition to this, requestors are required to provide information regarding the adoptee, including their full name and date of birth (if known)
How Do I Access Divorce Court Records in Arizona?
As per Arizona state laws, divorce court records are maintained by the Clerk of the Superior Court in the jurisdiction where the decree was made. This record is not available from the office of the Bureau of vital records.
As such, persons who are interested in accessing divorce records may do so by locating the record custodian in the county where the event occurred. Requestors are generally required to provide information regarding the divorce in order to access the record of interest. This may include the personal information of the parties involved as well as the place and date of the divorce. However, requests for certified divorce records may also require that the requestor provide identifying information to confirm their eligibility.