Alabama Court Records

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Where To Find Family Court Records In Alabama?

The Alabama circuit court is in charge of domestic cases, including issues involving paternity, child custody, divorce, domestic abuse, and child support. Dockets, transcripts, and other details of the court process are stored with the Circuit Clerk's Office, and every circuit court in Alabama has its specific requirement for retrieving family court records. Generally, it involves requesting by mail, telephone, or online. Also, members of the public can obtain files from family matters through the Alabama Administrative Office of Courts. However, divorce records are considered confidential, and public access is restricted.

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 Alabama?

Family law in Alabama is a section of the state's legal code that deals with regulating family relationships. The Alabama law addresses adoption, alimony, retirement benefits upon divorce, marriage, grandparent visitation, parents custody, and divorce. According to the Alabama divorce law, Title 30, Chapter 2 of the Code of Alabama, for an official separation to be established, spouses can file for divorce on a "fault" or "no-fault" basis. Most times spouses opt for the no-fault grounds for divorce, and the reason is, it is less stressful, cheaper, and faster. In this case, both parties do not throw blames but converge to a mutual agreement to go separate ways. Fault cases take longer because one of the spouses has to present the case in court and convince the judge to give a favorable rule. For example, in adultery cases.

Title 30 Marital and Domestic Relations, Section 30-3 governs the case of child custody and covers cases of sole legal custody, sole physical custody, joint physical custody, joint legal custody, and joint custody. The policy ensures that minor children are given to the parent who has satisfied the court child custody requirements involving the display of moral character, financial capability, and sagacity.

What Are Family Court Cases And Records In Alabama?

Generally, family court cases in Alabama are issues regarding parents, children, and spouses. Transcripts and other court documents generated during the legal action are stored by the Clerk of Circuit Court in Alabama. Examples of family court cases in Alabama include;

  • Alimony: Considering the assets gained before and after marriage, the earnings, the age, health, earning abilities, and the fault of each partner, the court can determine who gets paid during and after a divorce. However, following Section 30-2-55 of Alabama Code, the court reserves the right to modify payments of alimony if the receiving party remarries or cohabiting with a new partner.
  • Paternity Rights: A father can decide to fight for equal parenting rights and then decide to file a case to obtain custody of a child or be actively involved in the child's life.
  • Division of Property: This deals with the sharing of properties after divorce. The judge at the family court, based on equitable distribution, will determine how properties are apportioned after divorce.
  • Child Support: Financial obligation toward the support of a child resulting from a relationship.
  • Child Custody: The court resolves the matter of who keeps the child after the couples go separate ways, depending on who has the "best interests of the child". However, joint custody is also permitted in Alabama.
  • Divorce: Marriage dissolution or annulment based on different reasons.
  • Adoption: If neither of the parents is deemed worthy to take custody of a child, the family court in Alabama can grant adoption to persons willing to be the legal parent of the child.

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 Alabama?

Per the Code of Alabama 1975, § 36-12-40, family court documents are accessible to the general public for viewing or copying. However, this privilege does not come without an exception as confidential records are withheld from public review. The Code of Alabama, Title 26 Section 26-10A-31 stipulates that records in adoption proceedings are private, and are open to inspection only if the lawyer of the petitioner is present. Furthermore, interested parties may access adoption records through a court order by showing proof of a valid cause. Title 12, Chapter 15 Juvenile Proceedings law states that all records, reports, or information generated in any juvenile court cannot be made public or made available for public access. These include medical records, psychological records, birth certificates, and detention records.

How Do I Find Family Court Records In Alabama?

Interested persons can visit the office of the Circuit Clerk where the case was filed initially or the Alabama Administrative Office of Courts, to obtain family court records. Requirements may include a fee, a copy of a government-issued ID. However, the processes may differ for each circuit in Alabama.

Divorce records are categorized as exemplified or apostille copies. This refers to unrestricted records that can be retrieved by the public upon payment of the required fees. Divorce records can be requested through the telephone, mail, or in-person, but online access is unavailable. It costs $25 to access a certified copy of the divorce record and $6 for each duplicate. A mail-in application can be sent to:

Alabama Department of Public Health
Alabama Vital Records
Montgomery, AL 36104
P.O Box 5625
Office: (334) 206-2659
Fax: (334) 206-2659

How Do I Find Family Court Records Online?

Alabama has an online channel where members of the public can register to file and receive court documents electronically. After logging in, interested persons can gain access to family court records, including transcripts and images. Also, through the dedicated portal by Alabama courts, parties can obtain family court records that may involve child support or domestic abuse. However, there is a fee schedule. To use this database, applicants must provide the case number or a full name to begin a family court search.

What Is Alabama Custody Law?

Child custody in Alabama is the division of responsibilities by the parent of a child, following a separation. Title 30 Marital and Domestic Relations, Section 30-3-150 rules that the court is empowered with the decision of granting custody to the father or mother based on an assessment of the moral character and prudence of the parents. In this regard, joint custody can be given to parents who have displayed the ability to act in the best interest of a child after the marriage has been dissolved. However, the Title 30 Marital and Domestic Relations, Section 30-3-151 permits sole legal custody where one parent has total rights and responsibilities over decisions regarding the child. In Alabama, records of child custody are automatically sealed from public view.

How To Find Family Court Lawyers In Alabama?

Persons involved in family feuds that require court settlement can assess a family court lawyer through the Alabama State Bar. Get Legal Help, provided by Alabama State Bar, makes provisions for interested parties looking for legal services or volunteer lawyers, if the requesting party falls under the indigent or low-income citizen category. To add, Alabama State Bar offers a lawyer referral service to aid the members of the public to locate expert family case lawyers.

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