Connecticut Courts Overview
Superior Courts have general jurisdiction over all types of civil and criminal cases, and generally handle cases that are beyond the limited jurisdiction of Probate Courts. Some Superior Courts also have "special sessions" for certain types of cases. Some special sessions (Tax and Administrative Appeals Session, Child Protection Session, Land Use Litigation Docket, and Regional Family Trial Docket) handle cases for the entire state.
Probate Courts have exclusive jurisdiction over cases involving wills, estates, probate, trusts, and adoptions. Probate Courts share jurisdiction with Superior Courts over mental health cases, name changes, and issues that affect its exclusive jurisdiction.
If you prefer, you can start your search by going to Connecticut courts by county.
Connecticut Superior CourtsSuperior Courts have general jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases, and typically handle cases that are beyond the jurisdiction of Probate Courts.
Superior Courts are organized geographically by Judicial District Courts, Geographical Area Courts, and Juvenile Matters. Most traffic cases, criminal arraignments, and code violations are heard in Geographical Area Courts. The location of the parties, transaction, injury, or crime determines which Judicial District Court or Geographical Area Court has jurisdiction. Small claims cases may also be heard in the Centralized Small Claims Court in Hartford, and other types of cases may also be heard in Special Sessions, such as Housing Session in Bridgeport, Hartford, New Britain, New Haven, Norwalk, or Waterbury.
Superior Courts are also organized into divisions and special sessions by case type. Every Superior Court has court divisions for Civil, Criminal, Family/Juvenile cases. Special sessions handle certain types of cases; some special sessions are only available in some courts, while other special sessions serve the entire state from one location.
Civil Division is divided into five parts: Administrative Appeals, Civil Jury, Civil Non-Jury, Landlord/Tenant (including Summary Process/eviction) and Small Claims. The Small Claims division handles claims for money damages of $5,000 or less, if all requirements for Small Claims jurisdiction are met.
Criminal Division handles crimes, violations and infractions. Crimes include felonies (punishable by incarceration for more than one year) and misdemeanors (punishable by incarceration for one year or less). Violations include motor vehicle cases that are punishable only by a fine. Infractions include traffic tickets and offer the ability to pay a fine by mail to avoid a court appearance. Some cases may be handled by a special session of a Drug Docket or Drug Court, for cases where substance abuse treatment appears appropriate, or by a Community Court, for cases that involve “quality of life” crimes.
Family Division handles many types of cases about family relationships, including divorce, child custody, child support, and “relief from abuse” (also known as restraining orders or abuse prevention orders).
Juvenile Matters is a subdivision that handles cases involving the care of children or the behavior of a child, including but not limited to termination of parental rights, emancipation of a minor, child or youth neglect, delinquency, and cases involving families with service needs (FWSN).
Tax and Administrative Appeals Session handles appeals of decisions made by the Commissioner of Revenue Services and other administrative agencies, and some municipal property tax appeals. This session is located at New Britain Superior Court but serves the entire state.
Child Protection Session, located in Middlesex Judicial District Superior Court, acts as a statewide juvenile trial court and accepts juvenile cases referred by local judges that meet certain criteria, such as complexity. Local Superior Courts may also have their own Child Protection Sessions.
Complex Litigation Docket is available in Hartford, Waterbury, and Stamford Judicial Districts, and handles certain cases that involve many parties, complex legal issues, or very large monetary claims.
Community Court is currently available in Hartford Judicial District and handles some misdemeanor cases and some violations of municipal ordinances, including disorderly conduct, prostitution, public drunkenness, excessive noise, simple possession of marijuana, criminal trespass, criminal mischief, public nuisance, larceny, minor in possession of liquor, and illegal vending. This session may order a defendant to participate in community service programs.
Domestic Violence Dockets use a team of prosecutors, counselors, advocates, and law enforcement, and have regular meetings including defendants' return to court insuring that court orders are being followed.
Housing Session in some Superior Courts handles landlord-tenant cases. Housing Sessions currently operate in the Superior Courts at Bridgeport, Hartford, New Britain, New Haven, Norwalk, and Waterbury.
Land Use Litigation Docket is located in Hartford Judicial District and accepts certain cases transferred from local Superior Courts, such as planning and zoning, environmental, land use litigation, and affordable housing.
Regional Family Trial Docket, located in the Middlesex Judicial District, handles certain contested child custody and visitation cases referred by local judges that meet certain criteria, such as child-focused and ready for trial.
Connecticut Probate CourtsProbate Courts generally handle cases that include wills, estates, probate, trusts, and adoptions. Probate Courts share jurisdiction with Superior Courts over mental health cases, name changes, and related matters including title to property, support, custody, and paternity.
In addition, even though Probate Courts do not offer jury trials, if a proper request for a jury is made in Probate Court, a case may transfer to Superior Court for a jury trial and then return to Probate Court after the end of a jury trial.
Connecticut Court NotesOn July 1, 1978, the Circuit Court and Court of Common Pleas were incorporated into the Superior Court, so all references to Circuit Court or the Court of Common Pleas are now interpreted to mean Superior Court.
Where to Find Court Cases in Connecticut
The chart below gives general information on the types of cases heard in each type of Connecticut court.
|Case Type||Court Type|
|Civil||Superior Courts||Probate Courts|
|General Civil - Unlimited|
|General Civil - Limited|
|Foreclosures and Liens|
|Real Estate Title and Boundary|
|Landlord / Tenant|
|Protection, No Contact, and Restraining Orders|
|Administrative Agency Appeals|
|Criminal||Superior Courts||Probate Courts|
|Felony Preliminary Hearings|
|Traffic and Infractions|
|Domestic Relations||Superior Courts||Probate Courts|
|Child Custody and Visitation|
|Domestic Violence Protection Order|
|Juvenile||Superior Courts||Probate Courts|
|Child Abuse and Neglect|
|Termination of Parental Rights|
|Children in Need of Supervision|
|Mental Health||Superior Courts||Probate Courts|
|Other Mental Health Cases|
|Probate||Superior Courts||Probate Courts|
|Wills & Estates|
|Guardianships and Conservatorships|