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Where to Find Family Court Records In Oregon?

The Oregon Family Courts are parts of Circuit Courts that preside over legal matters relating to families, interpersonal relationships, and domestic life. In Oregon, a family court’s officials create, maintain, and disseminate records from when a family case begins to when the judge passes a verdict. With a few exceptions, these records are public information. Interested citizens may obtain the records from their natural custodian or independent service provider.

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 Oregon?

In Oregon, family law includes legal principles or rules that define, govern, and enforce rights and obligations in a marriage, partnership, or family unit. Oregon family law is continually evolving due to the nature of human interactions and the fluid realities of modern family life. In Oregon, the body of statutes that make up the state’s family law can be found in Volume 3: Title 11 of the Oregon Revised Statutes. The regulations are further divided into chapters that govern the following issues:

  • Marriage & Domestic Partnership: Chapter 106
  • Marital Dissolution, Annulment and Separation; Mediation and Conciliation Services; Family Abuse Prevention: Chapter 107
  • Spousal Relationships, Property Rights & Premarital Agreements: Chapter 108
  • Parent and Child Rights & Relationships: Chapter 109
  • Uniform Interstate Family Support: Chapter 110

What Are Family Court Cases and Records in Oregon?

Family court cases refer to suits that arise when spouses, their children, or family unit members are involved in disputes and seek judicial intervention. While family courts are trial courts, the majority of the cases are non-criminal. Likewise, the plaintiff intends to obtain a ruling that binds the defendant to fulfill an obligation or exercise their legal right.

During a family case, the parties involved will file or submit certain documents to support their claim, attorneys create briefs, and judges make notes on the case before passing a verdict. All of these documents are referred to as family court records. These documents also include motions, court transcripts, affidavits, notices, statements, etc. introduced in the entire litigation. Common family court cases in Oregon involve:

  • Divorce
  • Name and Sex Change
  • Child Support
  • Adoption
  • Family Tort
  • Marital Property and Debt
  • Spousal Support
  • Domestic Violence
  • Termination of parental rights
  • Juvenile Delinquency

Are Family Court Cases Public Records In Oregon?

Yes, the Oregon Public Records Law permits any individual to inspect and request a publicly-available court record from the custodian during business hours. However, the law limits and restricts public access to sensitive information on the parties involved, especially minors.

For example, records of proceedings on divorce, domestic violence, and protective orders are public information. However, the court will redact sensitive information like identification numbers, financial statements, minors’ names, and birth year. Conversely, members of the public are not permitted to access adoption records and juvenile court records without a court order or subpoena that grants access to that specific record.

How Do I Find Family Court Records In Oregon?

There are several means to find a family court record in Oregon. Records custodian process in-person and written mail requests and provide remote access to a court record. Regardless of the means, a requester must first identify the record’s location and natural custodian of that record. The custodian is the Clerk of Circuit Court in the county where the party filed the case. This directory of circuit courts maintained by the Oregon Judiciary is very useful to locate the court(s) of interest.

For in-person requests, the requester must visit the Clerk of Circuit Court’s office in person and during business hours. The interested requester must provide the necessary information to facilitate the search and cover the search fee. The Clerk will also ask the requester to present a government-issued photo ID and cover the cost of copying or certifying the record(s) of interest. Suppose the document contains redacted information or has been sealed. In that case, the Clerk will decline the request unless the individual presents a court order or subpoena that grants you access to that specific record. The court will only give a subpoena if the requester demonstrates legal interests that outweigh the premises for redaction or sealing.

For email and mail requests, the requester must enclose the written request, necessary information to facilitate the search and photo ID in a self-addressed stamped envelope (if applicable). Parties must also attach a cashier’s check or money order for the relevant fees before the Clerk’s Office will process the request. The requester must do due diligence by contacting the Clerk’s Office before submitting the request. For example, to find a family court record in Jefferson County, contact:

Jefferson County Circuit Court

129 Southwest E Street, Suite 101

Madras, OR 97741

Phone: (541) 475–3317

Email: JEF-copyrequests@ojd.state.or.us

Generally, the Clerk’s Office will give you an estimate if the request will cost more than $25.00. The Clerk’s Office will not proceed with the request until the requester confirms acknowledgment, sends payment in advance, and the payment clears. Furthermore, the Clerk’s Office will refund any excess over actual costs, and in the event of an underestimation, the Clerk’s Office will inform the requester as soon as possible.

How Do I Find Family Court Records Online?

The Oregon Judicial Case Information Network (OCJIN) is the centralized online database for publicly available court records. To use this database, the requester must create an OCJIN account and use the case information to locate a record of interest. OCJIN maintains a fee schedule for accessing the database. On the other hand, Oregon Judiciary also maintains a free online court docket. The docket provides necessary case information and is searchable by name and case number.

Records that are considered public may also be accessible from some third-party websites such as oregoncourtrecords.us. These websites often make searching less complicated, 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 of the person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that the person resides in or where the offense occurred.

Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party websites may vary.

What Is Oregon Custody Law?

In the event of a divorce or legal separation, Oregon Custody Laws bind parents and guardians seeking legal custody and a minor physical placement. Oregon custody laws are not biased towards either parent and only determine custody in the child’s best interests. Individuals can only make custody petitions if they and their children have lived in Oregon for six months.

Generally, Oregon custody laws award legal custody to a parent and visitation rights to the other. The law does not grant joint custody unless both parents arrive at a mutual agreement. While the court considers several factors, the significant determinants of who gets legal custody include emotional ties, parental attitude, parents’ emotional or mental stability, living conditions, history of domestic abuse, sexual assault, substance abuse, as well as criminal records. In cases where domestic abuse is involved, the parent with legal custody may file for a restraining order.

Custody records in Oregon are sealed by statute. Only individuals involved, their attorneys, and legal representatives may access them. Individuals who wish to access these records must demonstrate legitimate interest and present a court order.

How to Find Family Court Lawyers in Oregon

Oregon State Bar offers a Lawyer Referral Service that is available on the Oregon State Bar website. Interested individuals may also call (503) 684–3763 or (800) 452–7636, toll-free in Oregon to access this service. Furthermore, the Modest Means Program lets individuals receive aid from a lawyer who will subsidize the services’ cost after the first consultation. Interested individuals may also visit OregonLawHelp.org for low-cost legal services available near them.

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