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How to Access Courthouse Records

Courthouse records are only as good as the person or persons who enter the information or are responsible for maintaining and insuring the accuracy of the information. Clerks in a courthouse are required to enter case information from court proceedings into a case management system where the action is being heard or was settled. The courthouse is the gatekeeper to all manners of information, including civil and criminal actions, corporation information, divorce proceedings, estate and probate information, land records and property information.

Courthouse records will contain any suits that are filed by either individuals or corporations, and information concerning judgments for nonpayment of goods or services. Courthouse records may also include any orders that were entered by a judge presiding over court actions, as well as any court hearing transcripts. 

Types of Courthouse Records

The specific type of records that can be found in a courthouse include information concerning real estate, current owners, dates of ownership and a history of the transfers, any taxes that may be owed on the property as well as any mortgages that are due and owing. The courthouse records will contain copies of the deeds of conveyance as well as the mortgages or deeds of trust. If a property has encumbrances that have been satisfied, copies of those certificates of satisfaction, as they are commonly called, will also be found in courthouse records.

Courthouse records may also include information concerning water or sewer charges as well as any outstanding property taxes that may be due on the property, together with physical copies of those records. 

Business Records

If someone is selling a business, information about that business will be found in a courthouse among the UCC filings. UCC stands for Uniform Commercial Code and this Code is what governs commercial transactions, including sales of goods, commercial paper, bank deposits and collections, letters of credit, bulk transfers and secured transactions. A lender or bank will lend money to a business and to protect its loan will require that the business allow it to attach a lien against fixtures and/or equipment that can be found in the business. This type of security is called a “security interest filing.” If the property is sold at a later date, this interest or security must be paid off before the conveyor can transfer clear title. 

Real Estate Records

If the property that is being transferred is real estate, the lender may take a mortgage or deed of trust out against the property, creating a different type of security interest. These filings are likewise found in the courthouse. Before the owner can sell his property, he must ensure that he is able to convey clean and clear title and that any liens on the property are released. Those releases will be recorded in the courthouse--usually in the same book or location as the original mortgage, or in close proximity to it. 

Marriage and Divorce Records

Marriage and divorce records are two other records that will be found in a courthouse. Information that is usually found includes any previous marriages of the parties, the dates of the dissolution of the marriage and the reasons for the dissolution, any terms or agreements the parties made when they decided to terminate their marriage, as well as any divorce decrees that may be entered by a judge. 

Probate Records

Another type of record that can be found in the courthouse is estate or probate records. Estate planning addresses how a person will settle his affairs upon his death, distributing his possessions and setting forth any wishes he may have with regard to his burial. All of this is reduced to a writing called a Last Will and Testament. In some states, these Wills are recorded prior to the maker’s death and are filed in the Orphans’ Court which is usually found in a courthouse. In other states, however, those Wills are not filed until the maker passes away and during the probating of the estate. Probate is the process by which the decedent’s estate is settled. Probate also addresses the appointment of guardians or the approval of the adoption of minors.

Searching for Records

Courthouse recordkeeping varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Some of the records may be maintained in a stand-alone database while others may have all of their records entered in court books or logs; these are where all information about a party and/or case has been entered, either handwritten or typed in manually. 

Most county court record searches require the full names of the parties, commonly referred to as the “plaintiff” or the “defendant,” the date of the initial filing and the court in which the case was brought. Without at least that information, most searches will be fruitless. A civil record encompasses a wide variety of documents and most of the records are not protected by any type of privacy or privilege regulation.


State-Specific Courthouse Records Information:


Alabama Courthouse Records

California Courthouse Records

Florida Courthouse Records

Georgia Courthouse Records

Illinois Courthouse Records

Indiana Courthouse Records

Kansas Courthouse Records

Kentucky Courthouse Records

Michigan Courthouse Records

Minnesota Courthouse Records

Missouri Courthouse Records

New York Courthouse Records

North Carolina Courthouse Records

Ohio Courthouse Records

Oklahoma Courthouse Records

Oregon Courthouse Records

Tennessee Courthouse Records

Texas Courthouse Records

Virginia Courthouse Records

Washington Courthouse Records


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