How to Find Case Numbers in Family Court
Family court cases deal with sensitive issues like divorce, child custody, and domestic violence. Having the case number handy helps you lookup your case status and obtain copies of legal documents. Here’s how to find case numbers for your family court case.
Check Court Papers and Notices
The fastest way to find your family court case number is to look at any paperwork you received from the court. Court documents like petitions, motions, orders, and hearing notices include the full case number printed at the top. If you don’t have these documents handy, check old emails as courts may have emailed you notices with the case number.
Call the Family Court Clerk
Calling the family court clerk’s office is another easy way to get your case number. Have your full legal name ready when you call. The clerk can search for your case in the court’s database and provide the number over the phone.
Some courts let you lookup case numbers online through the clerk’s portal. But calling is a surefire way to get the right case number.
Search Court Records Online
Many family courts let you search public case records on their website. Look for an option like “Case Search” or “Court Records.” Here are tips for looking up your case number online:
Search by Name
On the case search page, enter your full legal name. Make sure to include middle names or initials. This brings up a list of all cases under that name. Browse the results to find your family court case.
Search by Date Range
Some courts let you filter by date range. If you don’t remember the exact filing date, enter a wide range like the past year. Narrow down the results by case type to family court.
Lookup Divorce Cases
For divorce cases, search using both your name and your spouse’s name. This casts a wider net to capture the case filing.
Search Child Custody Cases
For child custody cases, search using the child’s name too. Custody cases may be filed under the child’s name.
Visit the Courthouse
You can also get your family court case number in person at the courthouse. Ask the clerk how to lookup your case number. They can assist you at the records department.
Have your photo ID and other details like:
- Full legal name
- Spouse’s name
- Child’s name
- Case type
- Approximate filing date
The clerk will search the court’s database and provide your case number.
Find it on Court Orders
Check any family court orders in your records. Custody orders, protection orders, divorce decrees, and other court rulings have the full case name and number printed on them. Even old orders from years ago will have the case number.
Ask Your Lawyer
If you hired a family law attorney for your case, they’ll have your case number readily available. Your lawyer needs it to file documents and look up records. Simply call or email your attorney to get the number.
Check Billing Records
If you paid court fees or attorney fees related to your case, look for the case number on those receipts. Courts and lawyers include the full case name and number on invoices so you can keep track of billing records.
Contact Vital Records
For divorce cases that resulted in a name change, contact the vital records office. They can search marriage and divorce records using your old name and new name. Vital records staff can then provide your family court case number.
Locating Specific Case Numbers
Family court cases get different types of case numbers depending on the case type and jurisdiction. Here are some tips for finding certain kinds of family court case numbers.
Divorce Case Numbers
Divorce cases are filed as regular civil lawsuits. The case number format is “Case ####-D” in most states. The four digits refer to the sequence when the case was filed that year. The “D” indicates it’s a divorce case.
- Case 1254-D
- Case 7982-D
Child Custody Case Numbers
Child custody cases have a “JU” number in many states, like “JU-####-#####.” The first part indicates it’s a juvenile division case. Some states add extra digits to identify specific child custody cases.
Child Support Case Numbers
Child support cases have an “FSD” or “FSC” prefix in some states. This stands for “family support division.” The numbers vary but generally follow this format:
Protection Order Case Numbers
Restraining order and protection order case numbers vary widely by state. Common formats include:
The “RO” or “PO” indicates restraining or protection order. The digits are the sequence number when filed.
Paternity Case Numbers
Establishing paternity often uses a PA or a JP case number. JP stands for “juvenile paternity.” These identify cases establishing legal fatherhood.
Adoption Case Numbers
Adoption cases use an “A” in the number to indicate “adoption.” Some states add extra digits specific to child adoption cases.
Checking Multiple Case Types
Don’t forget to check numbers for all possible case types if you’re unsure of the specifics. Look for combinations like:
- Your name + spouse’s name
- Your name + child’s name
- Spouse’s name + child’s name
Cast a wide net when searching court records to capture any family case with your involvement.
Tips for Locating Your Correct Case Number
Finding the right family court case number amidst all the letters and digits can be tricky. Here are tips to ensure you get the correct case number:
Verify Name Spellings
Double check that your name is spelled correctly in case records. Middle names, hyphens, and suffixes need to match. Courts may index cases using formal first names like “Christopher” instead of “Chris.”
Confirm Case Type
Knowing the type of family case helps narrow the search. Don’t just look for generic terms like “family court.” Search for specific types like “divorce” or “custody.”
Match Filing Date
Pay attention to the date ranges when searching court records. Make sure it includes the approximate time you filed the family case.
Look for Children’s Names
Check case records listed under your children’s names in addition to your own. Some family cases like custody get filed under the child’s name.
Search All Counties
If you lived in multiple counties, you may have filed family cases in different court jurisdictions. Widen record searches to include past addresses.
Seek Help from Court Staff
If you’re still unsure, ask courthouse staff to assist you. They can search using multiple name variations and case types to help identify the right number.
Double check the case number with your lawyer or county clerk before using it. Make sure it precisely matches court documents to avoid errors.
What You Can Do with the Case Number
Once you’ve located the correct case number, here are some things you can do with it:
Look Up Your Case Status
The case number lets you lookup the current status online through the court’s website. This helps track where you are in the court process.
Obtain Copies of Documents
Use the case number to request copies of motions, orders, decrees, and other documents from your case file. The clerk needs it to locate the right records.
Pay Court Costs or Fines
Any court costs, filing fees, or penalties associated with your case can be paid using the specific case number. This ensures payments get credited properly.
File New Motions
To file additional motions or petitions in an existing case, put the case number on the form so it gets routed appropriately.
Serve or Submit Documents
The case number must be on any legal documents served to other parties or submitted to the court. This links it to the correct case.
Having the right case number prevents mixups between similar filings. Use it consistently on all court forms for a smooth process.
Communicate with Lawyers
Share the case number with attorneys involved so they can lookup case details and records as needed.
The family court case number is more than just a combination of random letters and numbers. It links all your court documents together – making information easy to find and track.
Locating your family court case number may take some sleuthing, but it provides many benefits. With the number, you can lookup your case status, get copies of documents, make payments, file motions, and avoid mixups. Finding it just takes some combination of checking your records, contacting the court clerk, searching online, verifying details carefully, and seeking help when needed. With the right case number in hand, you can navigate the court process smoothly.
How do I find my family court case number online?
Most family courts have a case records search on their website. Enter your full legal name and other details like date range to lookup your case number online.
What if I don’t know my exact filing date?
Search using wide date ranges like the past 1-2 years if you don’t know the exact filing date. You can also search using just your name without a date filter.
Do all family members share one case number?
No, each family member will have their own individual case number if filing separately. The numbers may be sequential but unique for each person.
Can I search family court records from another state?
Yes, most state court websites allow public access to case record searches nationwide. But you’ll have the most success finding your case on your local county court’s website.
How do I confirm the case number I found is correct?
Always verify with the court clerk or your lawyer. Compare the case number to official court documents to double check accuracy before using it.