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Finding Court Records in Kentucky

Kentucky Courts Overview

It helps to understand how the Kentucky state court system works when you’re trying to find court records. The Kentucky trial court system consists of Circuit Courts and District Courts.

Circuit Courts have general jurisdiction over all types of cases and District Courts have limited jurisdiction over certain types of cases. Circuit Courts generally only hear cases that are beyond the jurisdiction of District Courts.

If you prefer, you can start your search by going to Kentucky courts by county.

Kentucky Circuit Courts

Circuit Courts have general jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases but generally only handle cases that are beyond the jurisdiction of District Courts.

Criminal cases heard by Circuit Courts include felonies, capital crimes and lesser-included offenses.

Civil cases heard by Circuit Courts include civil cases with more than $5,000 in dispute, exclusive of interest and costs. Circuit Courts also handle dissolution of marriage, adoption, disputes about title to real estate, contested probate cases and reviews of administrative agency decisions.

Some Circuit Courts have Family Court divisions that handle cases such as divorce, child custody, child support, paternity, adoption, termination of parental rights, child neglect, child abuse, and domestic violence. The Family Court division shares jurisdiction over some types of cases with District Courts.

Circuit Courts, Family Court divisions and District Courts may have Drug Court divisions, to provide an alternative to incarceration for certain cases involving drug use. Drug Courts supervise the progress of an individual as they participate in a drug rehabilitation program.

Kentucky District Courts

District Courts have limited jurisdiction over certain types of civil and criminal cases.

Criminal cases heard by the District Courts include violations of county or city ordinances, most misdemeanor criminal cases, and preliminary hearings for felony or capital criminal cases.

Civil cases heard by District Courts include civil cases with less than $5,000 in dispute, exclusive of interest and costs. District Courts also handle uncontested probate matters, reviews of local administrative agency decisions, guardianships, conservatorships, voluntary and involuntary commitments and cases involving domestic violence.

District Courts each have a Juvenile Court division that handles cases that include child neglect, child abuse, runaways, juvenile delinquency and some criminal offenses. Juvenile Court divisions of District Courts share some jurisdiction over certain types of cases with the Family Court divisions in Circuit Courts.

The Small Claims Court division handles most general civil cases with less than $2,500 in dispute between all parties to a case. Certain types of claims and certain types of parties are prohibited in Small Claims Court. Jury trials are not available in Small Claims Court, but if the Defendant makes a proper request, the case will be transferred to another court.

District Courts may have Drug Court divisions, to provide an alternative to incarceration for certain cases involving drug use. Drug Courts supervise the progress of an individual as they participate in a drug rehabilitation program.

Teen Court divisions may be available in District Courts for children aged ten to seventeen who have either entered a plea of guilt or have been found guilty by a court of a minor criminal offense. This specialized program offers first-time offenders the chance to complete an alternative sentence and avoid a formal criminal record.

Where to Find Court Cases in Kentucky

The chart below gives general information on the types of cases heard in each type of Kentucky court.

Most Cases = Most or all cases.     Some Cases = Some cases.

Case Type Court Type
Civil Circuit Courts District Courts
General Civil - Unlimited Most or All Cases  
General Civil - Limited Some Cases Some Cases
Small Claims   Most or All Cases
Civil Equity Most or All Cases  
Complex Commercial Most or All Cases  
Foreclosures and Liens Some Cases Some Cases
Real Estate Title and Boundary Most or All Cases  
Landlord / Tenant Some Cases Some Cases
Ordinance Violations Some Cases Some Cases
Protection, No Contact, and Restraining Orders Some Cases Some Cases
Administrative Agency Appeals Most or All Cases Some Cases
Criminal Circuit Courts District Courts
Felony Most or All Cases  
Felony Preliminary Hearings Some Cases Some Cases
Misdemeanors Some Cases Most or All Cases
Ordinance Violations   Most or All Cases
Juvenile Some Cases Some Cases
Traffic and Infractions   Most or All Cases
Domestic Relations Circuit Courts District Courts
Divorce Most or All Cases  
Child Custody and Visitation Most or All Cases Some Cases
Child Support Most or All Cases Some Cases
Paternity Most or All Cases Some Cases
Domestic Violence Protection Order Most or All Cases Some Cases
Juvenile Circuit Courts District Courts
Adoptions Most or All Cases Some Cases
Juvenile Delinquency Some Cases Most or All Cases
Child Abuse and Neglect Some Cases Most or All Cases
Termination of Parental Rights Some Cases Most or All Cases
Children in Need of Supervision Some Cases Most or All Cases
Mental Health Circuit Courts District Courts
Involuntary Commitments Some Cases Some Cases
Other Mental Health Cases Some Cases Some Cases
Probate Circuit Courts District Courts
Wills & Estates Most or All Cases Some Cases
Name Changes Some Cases Some Cases
Trusts Most or All Cases Some Cases
Guardianships and Conservatorships Some Cases Some Cases

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