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Where to Find Family Court Records in Connecticut?

In Connecticut, family courts are divisions of the Superior Court charged with hearing family-related disputes such as divorce, marriage, adoption, and child custody cases. Members of the public can access family court records from the family court, where the case was filed. Family court records are typically managed by the office of the clerks of courts. Interested and eligible persons may copy and inspect these records readily available at the clerk’s office.

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, and it is recommended that those parties maintain these records with care in order 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 Connecticut?

Family law in Connecticut governs the proceedings of domestic relations cases in the state. It comprises a set of statutes that the family court follows when resolving family matters. The Connecticut Family Law (Title 46b) covers the various aspects of family matters in the state, which are:

Chapter 815: Court Proceedings in Family Relations Matters

Chapter 815a: Orders of Protection and Relief

Chapter 815e: Marriage

Chapter 815f: Civil Union

Chapter 815j: Dissolution of Marriage, Legal Separation and Annulment

Chapter 815p: Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act

Chapter 815t: Juvenile Matters

Chapter 815y: Paternity Matters

Chapter 816: Support

Chapter 817: Uniform Interstate Family Support Act

What Are Family Court Cases and Records in Connecticut?

Family court cases are the various types of domestic-related issues heard at the Connecticut family courts. The court maintains records such as documents and other information created during the family case proceedings. Types of cases heard at the Connecticut family court include:

  • Marriage
  • Paternity issues
  • Family Support
  • Child Custody
  • Juvenile Matters

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 person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from 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 Connecticut?

Yes, Connecticut family court cases are public information in accordance with the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act (FOIA.) This law furnishes members of the public access with the right to inspect and copy records generated and maintained by Connecticut courts. An eligible person may request family court records from its custodian, upon satisfying the procedures set to obtain desired records. If requestors are denied access to records, they may file a notice of appeal with the Freedom of Information Commission. However, individuals looking to get Connecticut family court cases should note that some records may be inaccessible due to the information they contain. Adoption records, juvenile records, and other records that contain sensitive information on a minor child are restricted from public access. Interested persons may obtain divorce records, marriage records, and child custody records.

How Do I Find Family Court Records in Connecticut?

Interested individuals looking to get family court records in Connecticut can obtain them from the family court the proceedings occurred. The superior court’s clerk is the custodian of court records. Eligible persons may request family court records from the clerk’s office by visiting the courthouse or writing a request and submitting it via U.S mail. Individuals can check the Family Services Directory to obtain the location and contact details of family courts in Connecticut. In-person requests are to be made during the office hours to the custodian. Fees may apply for the copying of records as specified by the court guidelines.

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?

Interested persons may find Connecticut family court records online via the Superior Court Case Look-up. This search tool gives access to public case details maintained by the Connecticut superior courts, including family court records. To look-up case information, users may search by the name of the parties involved, docker number, or the attorney’s Juris number. Family court records are available on the search portal for one to ten years after the disposition date. If a party files motion after the disposition date, the case may be displayed on the search portal for 11 months. Family court cases not available on the portal may be gotten at the clerk’s office location.

What Is Connecticut Custody Law?

In Connecticut, family courts use custody laws to guide the procedures on rulings involving child custody and visitation rights. Chapter 815j and Chapter 815p of the Connecticut Family Law contains guidelines family courts must adapt in custody cases. The two main types of custody in Connecticut are:

Physical Custody: This mainly concerns the child’s primary place of residence and day-to-day care. The party with sole physical custody will be responsible for providing shelter to the child, while the other may have some visitation privileges. In the case of joint physical custody, both parents spend time with the child using a plan approved by the court.

Legal Custody: This addresses the parent’s decision-making rights for a child’s welfare on education, health, and religion. If a party is granted sole custody, they have exclusive decision-making rights. Joint legal custody grants both parents legal custody over the child.

In custody rulings, the Connecticut family court grants custody rights based on the child’s best interest. Factors the court considers include, but are not limited to:

  • The parents’ ability to be actively involved in the child’s welfare
  • The child’s temperament and developmental needs
  • The child’s past and the current relationship with each parent and the child’s sibling(s).
  • Custody plans and wishes agreed on by both parents.
  • The willingness of each parent to facilitate and allow an on-going relationship between the child and the other parent
  • The condition and permanency of the child’s present and potential place of residence
  • The mental and physical status of all the parties involved
  • The child’s cultural background
  • The domestic violence history of each parent will be considered.
  • Manipulative behavior by a parent to involve the child in disagreements with the other parent.

The court may also grant custody to a third-party if it’s in the best interest of the child. If a court grants sole custody of a child to a parent, the non-custodial parents are granted visitation rights to spend time with the child. However, Connecticut family courts do not grant visitation rights to persons convicted of murder in any jurisdiction.

Joint custody proceedings usually entail the court approving a parenting plan which contains:

  • A schedule of the child’s residential plan during the year
  • The allocation of decision-making power over the child’s welfare
  • Provisions for the resolution of disputes that may occur among the parents in the future
  • the penalty for a parent that fails to carry out responsibilities concerning the child.

How to Find Family Court Lawyers in Connecticut?

The Connecticut Bar Association provides a search portal that interested persons may use to find lawyers registered in the state. Users of this portal may select the family case type as the designated area(s) of practice. The Connecticut Bar Association also provides resources that interested individuals may use to find organizations offering pro bono cases.

Alternatively, low-income earners seeking free legal help can visit the state’s pro bono site. The site compiles organizations and attorneys that offer free legal services in Connecticut.

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