What are Nebraska Family Court Records?
Nebraska family court records are official documents detailing the judicial processes of family courts within the state’s jurisdiction. These records are generated during family case proceedings and are stored, managed, and disseminated by the various court custodians of the state’s courts. These records primarily feature information related to hearings of family-related cases. They include all motions, court summons, court actions, court orders, sworn affidavit, opinions, final judgments as well as other relevant material in physical or digital format. In accordance with the Nebraska Revised Statutes (§ 84–712.01),, these records may be made available to interested persons upon request unless otherwise exempted from public access by statute or court rule.
What Cases are Heard by Nebraska Family Courts?
Some of the cases heard by family courts include:
- Marriages, dissolution of marriages, and divorce cases.
- Cases pertaining to domestic violence and related matters
- Cases relating to child adoption and custody, child support, alimony/spousal support, etc.
- Disputes involving neglected and dependent children and related interventions
- Matters involving termination of parental rights and emancipation of minors
- Cases relating to child support, wills, trusts, and domestic financial rights and settlements
- Minor criminal and juvenile delinquency cases, etc.
As dictated by Nebraska State Laws, family court records are managed and disseminated by the clerk of the particular court where the case was heard, which in this case is the Family Division of the District Court or the Juvenile Court. Records of family cases reviewed by the appellate level courts are also maintained at that level.
What Information is included in Nebraska Family Court Records?
Family court records provide information, ranging from notice, arrest, citations, and other details of events that led to the court appearances down to the details of the court processes such as motions, motion arguments, filed evidence, sworn affidavit, and other related information. Following divorce and dissolution of marriage, the records may contain information detailing the financial support furnished to the custodial parent, child support, alimony, as well as court awarded rights such as child custody, visitation, and restraining orders. In cases involving domestic violence and juvenile delinquency, documents are kept on the punishments and penalties such as jail time, probation, or community services issued to the offending party. If applicable, details of appellate court decisions in cases of a challenged final verdict may also be included.
Are Family Court Records Public in Nebraska?
Pursuant to the Nebraska Revised Statutes, most family court records are available for public inspection. The clerks of the judicial district courts are tasked with the duty of safekeeping and releasing these records to interested members of the public upon request. The clerks are also charged with restricting public access to sealed or confidential family court records. In essence, family court records are public in the state except otherwise defined by law. However, in a practical sense, most records are partially public because sensitive information revealing the personal identification numbers, financial numbers, passwords, social security numbers, tax returns, etc are automatically sealed from the public. Other confidential records include:
- Parts of any record containing the personal and contact information of a child or minor
- Portions or parts of any record revealing identifying information on a domestic violence victim
- Records of parental right proceedings such as adoption and guardianship records along with records containing details of termination of parental rights
- Records of files and documents issued by child protective services, adoption agencies, and public protective service institution during the proceeding
- psychological and mental health evaluation records
To gain access to confidential records, the requesting party is required to petition the court and obtain a court order. Expunged family court records are off-limits records which are considered never existent. As such, they are not available to anyone, organization or authority.
How Do I Get Family Court Records in Nebraska?
In compliance with the 2000 Nebraska Revised Statutes § 84–712, Interested persons may view, and obtain copies of family court records upon request except in cases where access is denied based on legal grounds. The available channels for accessing Nebraska family court records include:
- By making in-person requests to the court custodian
- By researching the online databases maintained in the different court websites or in third-party aggregate sites
- By sending written mail-in requests to the appropriate court
How To Find Nebraska Family Court Records Online?
The Nebraska Revised Statutes § 1–805 made provisions for extensive online resources from which the public can access family court records remotely. These online databases are maintained in a unified database as well as in county-managed repositories. Given the restrictions on civil court records, only publicly available information is accessible while sealed or confidential records are excluded. The Nebraska online tools/e-services include:
- The Nebraska Trial Court Case Search Portal
- The Nebraska Trial Court Calendars
- The Appellate Court Case portal
- The Nebraska Appellate Court online library
- The Appellate court Oral Argument Schedule
Nebraska Trial Court Case Search Portal
The Nebraska Trial Court Case Search Portal is an e-feature of the state’s online resource that provides state-wide information on the family cases heard in the various county trial courts. This unified case management system is otherwise known as JUSTICE and may be searched by party name using the One-Time Case Search Feature of the website. This portal reveals the general case information and may turn up many results containing different records of persons with similar names. Users are charged $15 per record search conducted. Furthermore, frequent users researching multiple records or persons in need of case-specific information may opt to a subscription plan maintained by the Nebraska government. Each account is billed $50 per annum and users can research general case information free of charge via the login portal. The searching requirements include the party names, court type, case type/subtype, name of the county where the case was heard, year of case filing, as well as the names of the judge and attorney assigned to the case. If case-specific information is also requested, a $1 search fee is paid. In cases where the search criteria are not fully known, the subscriber may render a search by utilizing the judgment date and court case number for $1 per search.
The trial court calendars are available online for courts using the JUSTICE case scheduling system. Interested persons are required to search the database by date or last name of any party involved in the case.
Nebraska Appellate Court Case Search Portal
The appellate level courts provide e-services via a case management system known as SCCALES. The database features a case number based search using the appellate case number or the original trial court case number. However, before access is granted, a subscription plan of $50 per annum is required. General case information is accessible free of charge and case-specific details may be viewed for $1.
Interested parties may inspect appellate court opinions free of charge by utilizing the Nebraska Appellate Court online library which serves as a state-wide repository of officially published online opinions. The appellate court calendars and oral arguments may be viewed by date or month of publication by using the Appellate court Oral Argument Schedule.
Similarly, 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 a 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 Access Nebraska Family Court Records in Person?
Family court records in the state of Nebraska may also be accessed via in-person courthouse visits by interested persons. Per state statutes, the court custodians set some limitations on the online dissemination of court records. Hence, confidential and sealed records are strictly available by in-person physical requests only. To successfully render a family court record request, the following steps are recommended:
Step 1: Find the Record Custodian
It is the primary responsibility of various court clerks to generate, manage, and disseminate family court records. As a rule of thumb for looking up family court records in person, the requesting party is required to locate the custodian of the specific court in which the case was handled. Other contributing factors that may affect the location of a record is the status of the case, how long ago the case was closed, and local court storage guidelines. Family-related cases are usually handled in the judicial district courts where either one or both parties reside. On the other hand, old family court records may be stored in off-site locations for which the requester may be asked to return. Records of cases reviewed by the appellate-level courts may be accessed in the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, as well as from the particular district court where the case was originally heard. Querying parties are required to consult the District Court or County Court contact directories.
Step 2: Gather All Relevant Information
After ascertaining the location of the record of interest, the requesters may then proceed to gather case-specific information unique to the case. This relevant information limits the case search thereby saving time and resources. In addition, the court clerks may also have court records retrieval guidelines unique to the court. The general case information required for inspecting these records includes the case number, names of the parties involved in the case, the approximate filing date, the date the case was closed, the appellate case number (if applicable), and the name of the presiding judge. Furthermore, interested persons with average internet knowledge may download and print the relevant record request form to promote efficiency.
Step 3: Provide Identification & Fee Requirements
Generally, requesters are required to provide the estimated costs of search and/or copies before a record request is processed by the court custodian. Nebraska Freedom of Information Act allows the public the right to requests without stating the purpose of the request. However, the provision of a valid government-issued photo ID is necessary to make copies of records. This is especially important for persons who are requesting restricted records/or information. Most sealed records are only accessible after a reasonable motion to unseal petition is addressed to the court and a court order is authorized.
Step 4: Make the Request
During normal business days and hours, requesters are required to visit the office of the record custodians with the information detailed in the first three steps. An appointment schedule is recommended to avoid fruitless journeys. Most courthouses provide self-help terminals where the record of interest may be viewed and inspected. If the record of interest is not available on the terminal, chances are that the record is confidential, the case is old, or that the requester is looking at the wrong courthouse. The information featured in the public terminals is general case information and if specific details and/or copies are needed, a manual record request form should be filed and necessary fees paid.
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 Nebraska 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 To Obtain Nebraska Family Court Records via Mail?
To obtain civil court records by mail, residents must first establish that the court of interest offers this service. Interested parties can confirm this by contacting the clerk of court using the District Courts Clerk Directories or County Courts Clerk Directories or by visiting the court’s official webpage. Mailing details, as well as the cost for coping official court records, can be found on most court websites. While the rules vary with different clerks, most courts require a physical address for mailing records. Payment for records may be made by credit card or check. Interested parties are advised to include a self-addressed stamped return envelope. Obtaining records by mail may take 3 days to 2 weeks depending on the court and the difficulty in finding the record.
Specialized Family Court Records
In addition to maintaining and disseminating records of family court cases and proceedings or trial transcripts, Nebraska family courts generate and issue a variety of court decrees, orders, and records. These documents perform a variety of functions including legal authorization for marriage dissolutions, adoptions and child custody as well as will execution and the issuance of financial claims. Like court records, these documents may be made available to interested and eligible persons. However, the eligibility requirements for accessing these vary among counties.
How To Obtain Adoption Records in the State of Nebraska
The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services is charged with providing a variety of records in the state, including Adoption Records. As per state law, adoption searches are available to adoptees and birth parents for adoptions that were finalized in the State of Nebraska. To request an adoption search, the adoptee must be 21 years of age or older and searches for birth siblings can only be conducted where the adult adoptee and adult sibling of interest have a prior relationship. As such extended family members such as grandparents, aunts, etc. may not request adoption searches but may be allowed to file a letter in the adoptee’s file.
Adoption searches may be conducted online via the Department of Health and Human Services. Other requirements for obtaining adoption records include a valid government-issued photo ID and indicated fees. In-person and mail-in visits may be directed to:
Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services,
Bureau of Vital Statistics
301 Centennial Mall South,
Lincoln, Nebraska 68509
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.