Indiana Courts Overview
It helps to understand how the Indiana state court system works when you’re trying to find court records. The Indiana trial court system consists of Circuit Courts, Superior Courts, City and Town Courts, Tax Court, Marion County Small Claims Courts, and St. Joseph County Probate Court.
Indiana has a complicated trial court system consisting of three main court types, without standardized jurisdiction from county to county. For many Indiana courts, jurisdiction is based on whether other types of courts exist in a particular county or judicial circuit. The three main types of Indiana trial courts are Circuit Courts, Superior Courts, and City or Town Courts. Some counties have all types of courts, while others may only have a Circuit Court. Some counties may have separate Ordinance Violations Bureaus.
If you prefer, you can start your search by going to Indiana courts by county.
Indiana Circuit CourtsCircuit Courts have original jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases, but generally only handle cases that are beyond the jurisdiction of other courts.
Criminal cases heard by Circuit Courts include all types of felonies and lesser-included offenses. In counties without Superior Courts, Circuit Courts will also handle misdemeanors and ordinance violations.
Civil cases heard by Circuit Courts include general civil claims beyond the jurisdiction or capacity of other courts. In counties without Superior Courts, Circuit Courts also handle small claims cases, except in Marion County, where each township has its own local Small Claims Court.
Circuit Courts handle most domestic relations cases, including divorce, child custody, child support, paternity and domestic violence protection orders.
Circuit Courts handle most juvenile matters and share some jurisdiction with Superior Courts over juvenile cases including juvenile delinquency, child abuse and neglect and termination of parental rights. Circuit Courts also share jurisdiction with Superior Courts over mental health cases and probate matters.
Indiana Superior CourtsSuperior Courts exercise general jurisdiction over most civil and criminal cases, but jurisdiction varies by county. Superior Courts may have specialized divisions such as Civil, Criminal, and Family.
Criminal cases heard by Superior Courts include felonies and misdemeanors. Civil cases heard by Superior Courts include general civil claims. Superior Courts also handle small claims cases, except in Marion County, where each township has its own local Small Claims Court.
Superior Courts share jurisdiction with Circuit Courts over most juvenile, mental health and probate cases.
Indiana City and Town CourtsCity Courts and Town Courts have limited jurisdiction that varies by court.
Generally, a City Court or Town Court has jurisdiction to hear all city or town ordinance violations, infractions and some misdemeanor criminal cases.
City and Town Courts may have some jurisdiction over certain civil cases within limits on the amount of money in dispute.
City and Town Courts are prohibited from handling certain types of cases, including slander, libel, foreclosures where the title to real estate is in dispute, most probate matters, equity, dissolution of marriage, injunctive relief, and other cases that involve questions of the title to real estate.
Indiana Tax CourtThe Indiana Tax Court handles statewide cases and operates out of a central office in Indianapolis. The Tax Court has exclusive jurisdiction over cases that arise under the tax laws, including appeals of tax decisions made by various state agencies.
Indiana Marion County Small Claims CourtsMarion County townships have Small Claims Courts with limited jurisdiction over most civil cases that involve less than $6,000 in dispute, including landlord-tenant cases and other types of general civil claims.
Indiana St. Joseph County Probate CourtSt. Joseph County has a separate Probate Court that shares jurisdiction with Circuit Court and Superior Court over estates, protected persons and trust administration.
The St. Joseph County Probate Court also has exclusive jurisdiction over adoptions, juvenile delinquency, child protection and paternity cases.
Where to Find Court Cases in Indiana
The chart below gives general information on the types of cases heard in each type of Indiana court.
|Case Type||Court Type|
|Civil||Circuit Courts||Superior Courts||City and Town 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||Circuit Courts||Superior Courts||City and Town Courts|
|Felony Preliminary Hearings|
|Traffic and Infractions|
|Domestic Relations||Circuit Courts||Superior Courts||City and Town Courts|
|Child Custody and Visitation|
|Domestic Violence Protection Order|
|Juvenile||Circuit Courts||Superior Courts||City and Town Courts|
|Child Abuse and Neglect|
|Termination of Parental Rights|
|Children in Need of Supervision|
|Mental Health||Circuit Courts||Superior Courts||City and Town Courts|
|Other Mental Health Cases|
|Probate||Circuit Courts||Superior Courts||City and Town Courts|
|Wills & Estates|
|Guardianships and Conservatorships|
Note: Some courts in Indiana are not included in the chart above. Please use the following links for descriptions and types of cases heard:
Marion County Small Claims Courts St. Joseph County Probate Court