Minnesota Court Records
Where To Find Family Court Records In Minnesota?
In Minnesota, the District Courts are trial courts tasked with maintaining and disseminating family court records filed within their respective jurisdiction. These courts are divided into 10 judicial districts and exercise original jurisdiction over family matters occurring in the state. These matters include marriage dissolution (divorce, annulment, or separation), custody, child/spousal support, adoption, domestic violence, paternity, legal guardianship, child/elder abuse, protection orders, and juvenile delinquency. Typically, family court records are available in the courthouses where the cases were filed.
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 Minnesota?
Minnesota family laws refer to written legislation used by the state courts to handle domestic matters. These rules include the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure, Minnesota Rules of Adoption Procedure, as well as Title I, II, IV, and X of the Minnesota General Rules of Practice for the District Courts. Family statutes are divided into chapters, titles, and sections, and like the rules of procedures, govern the treatment of family cases by the family courts or by approved agencies authorized by law to provide family-related services. These laws include, but are not limited to:
Minnesota Statutes, Domestic Relations:
Chapter 517: Civil marriage
Chapter 518: Marriage dissolution
Chapter 518A: Child support
Chapter 518B: Domestic abuse
Chapter 518C: Uniform Interstate Family Support Act
Chapter 518D: Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act
Chapter 518E: Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act
Chapter 519: Married persons; rights, privileges
Chapter 519A: Uniform Disposition of Community Property Rights at Death Act
Minnesota Statutes, Public Welfare and Related Activities
Chapter 257: Children; custody, legitimacy
Chapter 257B: Standby custodian; designation; guardian
Chapter 257C: De facto custodian and interested third party
Chapter 259: Change of name, adoption
Chapter 260A: Truancy
Chapter 260B: Delinquency
Chapter 260C: Child Protection
Minnesota Statutes, Crimes; expungement; victims
Chapter 609.748: Harassment; restraining orders
More family statutes may be viewed under the “rules & laws” tab by clicking specific family cases on the Help Topics page. Alternatively, a Minnesota State Law Library may be visited to research laws pertaining to family cases.
What Are Family Court Cases And Records In Minnesota?
Family issues filed with the court clerk and heard before District Courts judges in Minnesota are referred to as family court cases. During family court proceedings, the clerk as well as the court reporter documents official accounts of the litigation procedures. These documents are known as family court records and are kept by the courts. Family court records are maintained in paper or electronic formats and can include judgments, register of actions, transcripts, calendars, decrees, orders, indexes, dockets, notices, affidavits, and decisions, among others. Some cases handled by the Family Divisions of the Minnesota District Courts include:
- Annulment, divorce, and legal separation
- Child custody
- Child protection or CHIPS (Child in Need of Protection or Services)
- Child support
- Domestic abuse and harassment
- Dependency and neglect
- Juvenile delinquency
- Name change
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 the person resides 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 Minnesota?
Yes, the public have access to family court records pursuant to the Minnesota Open Records Law. However, this law is not an umbrella law. As such, some records are exempted from public disclosure by statute or court order. Generally speaking, it is possible to inspect or copy non-confidential case files by querying the court with jurisdiction. Records that are closed to the public are outlined in Rule 4, Rules of Public Access to Records of the Judicial Branch and may include those pertaining to paternity, adoption, child protection, child custody/support, domestic abuse/harassment, medical records, and juvenile records. Also considered confidential is sensitive information such as names, home addresses, financial information, and social security numbers of minors, victims, or informants.
How Do I Find Family Court Records In Minnesota?
Minnesota family court records can be accessed in three methods: online, in-person(at court administration counters or public access terminals), or by mail. Email orders are also possible in some courts. Furthermore, some district courts, like the Hennepin County District Court and courts in the Sixth Judicial District, provide copy request forms for mail/email orders. This form is available to download on the court’s page, hosted on the Minnesota judicial branch website. Requesters may use the Find Your Court tool to search for specific courts and obtain physical locations, mail addresses, emails, office hours, contact numbers, and court-specific ordering instructions.
To make in-person requests, individuals are required to go to the applicable court administration counter located in the appropriate courthouse. Certified and uncertified copies may be ordered by paying a fee. It should be noted, however, that counter orders are for paper or hard copies only. To view records electronically, requesters may use the public access terminals free of charge. Mail orders may be made using the request form (if available), or by written requests including the case name, file number, document description, and complete records fee. Requesters are also required to include their day time phone numbers.
While in-person requests have a same-day turnaround time, mail orders may take up to 5 days to process. Payment methods for in-person requests include cash, credit card, or check, and mail requests use check or money order primarily. Still, this may vary by court; therefore, it is recommended to contact the applicable court clerk prior to making an order.
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 Minnesota Public Access (MPA) Remote platform provides access to family court records online at no charge. However, while the case information available is updated regularly, it is limited and uncertified. Under Rule 8, Rules of Public Access to Records of the Minnesota Judicial Branch, members of the public may access non-confidential family court records such as the court calendars, judgment dockets, indexes, and registers of action, except:
- Street addresses
- Phone numbers
- Personal identifiers of jurors, witnesses, minors, and victims
- Social security, employer identification, and financial numbers
Also, the following family case records are not accessible remotely:
- Delinquency felony
- CHIPS (Child in Need of Protection or Services)
- Domestic abuse
- Commitment cases
- Dissolution cases involving child custody and support
- Post-adjudication paternity proceedings
On MPA Remote, interested parties may search and view family court records by the case number, party’s name (first, middle, and last), attorney’s name, or attorney’s bar number. Additional fields such as the case status and filing date may be used to narrow search results.
What Is Minnesota Custody Law?
Minnesota custody law governs the rights, parental obligation, and parenting time due to a child involved in marriage dissolution, paternity, child abuse, and guardianship cases. There are separate sections of the law covering child custody cases in the state. These include:
- Chapter 257: Children; Custody, Legitimacy
- Chapter 257.75: Recognition of Parentage
- Chapter 518.17: Custody and Support of Children on Judgment
- Chapter 518.155: Custody Determinations
- Chapter 518.156: Commencement of Custody Proceeding.
- Chapter 518D: Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act
In Minnesota, there are two types of custody:
- Legal custody: The right to decide the education, health care, religious training, and upbringing of a child
- Physical custody: Pertains to the right to make decisions concerning a child’s residence and daily activities
For custody to be decided by a judge, the child must have lived in the state with a parent or legal guardian for 6 months (180 days), in succession. However, the court may allow exceptions because of emergencies, as defined by Rule 303.04 of the General Rules of Practice. Under this rule, the
Parents may either have sole or joint custody of a child. In joint custody, rather than one parent, the right to make decisions for the child, like in the case of sole custody, it is shared by both parents. In these cases, the judge makes a ruling based on the child’s best interests.
How To Find Family Court Lawyers In Minnesota?
Although people may represent themselves in a Minnesota family court, it may be advisable to hire a family court lawyer to offer legal advice, especially in divorce, adoption, custody, support, or harassment matters. Also, there are several laws in Minnesota concerning family matters and this may translate to hours of research on the individual’s part to get the most favorable option in line with the law. A family court lawyer aids with this process and helps prevent errors that may result in long-lasting consequences. The Minnesota judicial system provides legal resources by which individuals may find family court lawyers, or get pro bono/low-cost legal advice. This information is available on the court-managed Find a Lawyer page. The Minnesota State Bar Association also offers a Find a Lawyer Directory to assist in finding family court lawyers by firm name, attorney name (first and last), location, practice area, legal fees, or licensing state. Residents of Anoka County may use the Find a Lawyer tool provided by the Anoka County Bar Association.