What are Kansas Family Court Records?
Kansas family court records are official documents detailing the court processes of family courts within the state’s jurisdiction. These records are generated and managed by the various court clerks of courts within the state’s jurisdiction. These records typically feature information pertaining to hearings of family-related cases. They include all filed motions, court summons, and court actions, court orders, sworn statements along with the court's final verdicts and decrees. As per Kansas state law, these records may be made available to interested and eligible persons upon request unless otherwise ruled by a court.
What Cases are Heard by Kansas Family Courts?
Kansas State District Courts are trial courts of general jurisdiction with jurisdiction over civil cases including domestic relations. The state’s family courts are divisions of district courts that are tasked with hearing all family and probate related matters. The cases heard by these courts include:
- Disputes pertaining to marriages, divorces, separation, and annulment
- Domestic assault and domestic abuse-related matters
- Cases relating to child adoption and custody, child support, alimony/spousal support, etc.
- Guardianship, minor emancipation, and related interventions
- Cases relating to wills, trusts and domestic financial rights and settlements
The Kansas state judiciary is a 3-tier system consisting of the state Court of Civil Appeals, Kansas’ District Courts and the state Supreme Court which is an authority over all courts in the state. As required by state law, family court records are maintained and disseminated by the court clerks of the court where the case was heard, which is the Family Division of the state District Court. If the verdict issued by the District Court is reviewed by any of the state’s appellate courts, the updated court case records are also maintained by the administrative arm of the applicable appellate court.
What is Included in Kansas Family Court Records?
Kansas family court records are designed to offer an objective account of the litigation processes of family courts in the state. Typically, they contain court case information and as such, are often unique to each case and the judicial district in which the record was generated. Regardless of any specificities, most family court records feature general information regarding the dispute/suit as well as the personal/identifying information of the parties involved. Most records include information regarding the original filing -- i.e. the place and date the suit was filed as well as details of the court processes such as court summons, actions, motions, motion arguments, filed pieces of evidence, and all other related information.
Additionally, family court records feature details of the court’s final verdict and details/conditions of any court-instituted rights i.e. adoption, child custody, and visitation or protective orders. Details of financial settlements may also be included in cases of divorce, alimony/spousal support as well as child support. Where either party has been issued jail sentence, community service or probationary conditions, these details may also be included along with any updates on the original verdict if the case is subsequently reviewed by a Kansa appellate court.
Are Family Court Records Public in Kansas?
In accordance with Kansas public record laws, most court records are available to interested members of the public upon request. Family court records are primarily managed and disseminated by the office of the court clerk in the court where the case was heard. These clerks are charged with providing access to court records unless otherwise ruled by a court. As per Kansas state laws, the right of public access to family court records is not absolute. The following records are confidential and are sealed on request or state statutes:
- All records containing the personal and contact information of a minor or juvenile as well as a domestic violence/assault victim
- Records pertaining to parental rights including adoption and guardianship records, and records indicating the termination or relinquishment of parental rights
- Documents filed by child protective services, adoption agencies, and public protective service institution during the proceeding
- Records pertaining to psychological and mental health evaluations
- Tax returns along with records detailing the property inventory of persons and other financial information such as bank account numbers, credit card numbers and social security numbers
In order to access confidential, sealed or expunged court records or information in Kansas, the requestor must obtain the required legal authority which is usually issued by a Kansas-licensed judge.
How Do I Get Family Court Records in Kansas?
Pursuant to Kansas state laws, interested persons may obtain and view and obtain copies of family court records upon request. However, given that most courts have unique legal processes, the requirements for accessing these records may vary from court to court. Notwithstanding, most Kansas family court records can be accessed by making in-person requests to the record custodian, using state-managed, district-operated or third party online resources or by sending written mail-in requests to the courthouse where the case was heard.
How to Obtain Kansas Family Court Records Online
The Kansas Judicial Branch provides a variety of online resources with which interested members of the public can access family court records remotely. These resources are central state-wide databases that allow interested persons to access court records regardless of the judicial district where the case was filed. They include the Kansas District Court Public Access Portal, the Appellate Case Inquiry System as well as the 3rd Judicial District Public Access System.
The Kansas District Court Public Access Portal features court records of all cases heard by the state’s district courts. Generally, requestors are required to provide information regarding the record of interest including the county where the suit was filed and the complete case ID of the record.
Similarly, The Appellate Case Inquiry System features records of cases heard in Kansas appellate courts -- court opinions and a register of actions. The system may be searched using the name of the subjects of the record or the appellate case number of the record and the county where the case was heard. Furthermore, the 3rd Judicial District Public Access System, the 10th Judicial District Public Records tool and the 18th Judicial District Subscriber Access network provide members of the public with online access to court records. The 3rd and 10th judicial districts both provide public access to a case action register at no charge. However, the portal operated by Sedgwick county requires users to pay a nominal fee. This is in addition to the Supreme Court Dockets and Court of Appeal Dockets maintained by the KJB which relevant case information as well as details of oral arguments
In addition to the above, publicly available records may be 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.
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 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 Make In-Person Requests for Kansas Family Records
Interested persons may also obtain Kansas family court records by making in-person requests to the courthouse where the case was filed/heard. Given that the state judiciary enforces some restrictions on the electronic dissemination of court records, sealed and/or confidential records are not available through the available online resources. As such, in-person record requests are especially recommended for accessing full court case information. To request Kansas family court records in person, the requesting party is required to:
Find the Record Custodian
Pursuant to the provisions of Kansas state law, family court records are generated and managed by the various court clerks of Kansas Family Courts which are divisions of the state district courts. To request a family court record in person, requestors are required to locate the judicial district in which the suit was filed. This is best determined by considering the most current status of the case. Where the case has been concluded and a judgment issued, the record will be in the custody of the court clerk of the courthouse where the case was heard. However, if the judgment has been reviewed by a higher court, requestors may locate the record of interest in the administrative arm of the appellate court. The Kansas Judicial Branch Find a District Court tool may be useful for obtaining the contact information of these courts.
Gather All Relevant Information
Upon confirming the location of the record, requestors may proceed to contact the relevant office for information regarding any record retrieval requirements of the courts. Given Kansas judicial districts often employ unique operational processes, the record retrieval requirements of these courts may vary between the districts. However, requestors are generally required to provide any and all information required to facilitate a record search. This usually includes the full name of the plaintiff and defendant, the case file number, appellate record number or docket number of the record and the approximate date the suit was filed.
Provide Identification & Fee Requirements
To obtain a court record, the requesting party is required to present a government-issued ID to verify their eligibility to access the record of interest, as well as cover the costs of search and/or copies. For persons requesting access to sealed or confidential records, a court-issued subpoena must also be presented before the access to the record is granted.
Make the Request
Requests for family court records can be made during official working hours to the office of the record custodian. However, requestors are advised to schedule their appointment at the courthouse beforehand. Most courthouses provide public access computer terminals with which interested parties may self serve in the courthouse. However, if the requestor requires full court case information and/or a confidential record, the party may be provided with an application on which information regarding the record of interest should be indicated.
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.
How to Access Kansas Family Court Records via Mail
Interested members of the public may request Kansas family court records via U.S. mail. These requests are also processed by the office of the various state court clerks. However, records may only be disseminated via mail if the record of interest is public information. While the requirements for obtaining family court records generally varies by judicial district, case type and the information contained in the record, mail-in requests require that the requesting party provide a written request containing the following information:
- The personal and contact information of the requesting party
- The type of record required
- General court case information -- i.e. details of the initial filing and hearing
- The full name of one or both of the parties
- The case file number, docket number or appellate number of the record of interest
- The names and/or state bar number of any of the legal representatives involved.
In addition to the above, come record custodians have specific protocols and additional requirements. Thus, requesters are advised to inquire from the office of the court clerk before proceeding with the request. In some cases, requests must also be accompanied by a cheque/money order to cover any applicable fees and a stamped, self-addressed envelope with a photocopy of the requestor's government-issued ID.
Specialized Family Court Records
In addition to maintaining and disseminating records of family court cases and proceedings or trial transcripts, Kansas family courts generates and issues 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 records generally varies.
How to Obtain Kansas Adoption Records
The Kansas Department for Children and Families is charged with providing a variety of Prevention and Protection Services in the state including Adoption Records management and dissemination. As per state law, adoption searches are available to adoptees and birth parents for adoptions that were finalized in the State of Kansas. To request an adoption search, the adoptee must be 18 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 S 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 by completing the Adult Adoptee Searching for Birth Parents Form, the Birth Parents requesting contact with Adult Adoptee Form,
Adult Requesting Search for Birth Siblings or the Authorization to Release Information Form depending on the information being requested. Completed forms must be notarized and enclosed with any indicated fees or ID requirements and mailed to:
DCF/Prevention and Protection Services
555 S. Kansas Ave 4th Floor
Topeka, KS 66603