New Jersey Courts Overview
It helps to understand how the New Jersey state court system works when you’re trying to find court records. The New Jersey trial court system consists of Superior Courts, Surrogate's Courts, Municipal Courts, and Tax Court.
Superior Courts have general jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases but generally handle cases beyond the jurisdiction of other courts. Municipal Courts have limited jurisdiction over some types of criminal cases. The New Jersey Tax Court is a specialized court that handles certain tax cases for the entire state.
If you prefer, you can start your search by going to New Jersey courts by county.
New Jersey Superior CourtsSuperior Courts have general jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases, and generally only handle cases that are beyond the jurisdiction of other courts.
Superior Courts may have divisions based on case type, such as civil, criminal, family, housing, general equity/chancery, probation or municipal.
The Family Part of Superior Court has exclusive original jurisdiction over all non-criminal child abuse or neglect cases, all matters relating to a juvenile-family crisis and juvenile delinquency cases that do not involve allegations of murder or manslaughter. The Family Part also handles divorce, annulment, maintenance, child support, parental notification waivers, adoption, paternity and cases related to domestic violence.
The Probate Part of Superior Court has exclusive jurisdiction over all contested probate matters, and some uncontested probate matters enumerated by statute. It has general oversight of Surrogate's Court proceedings.
Superior Courts may transfer cases to The New Jersey Tax Court when taxation expertise is appropriate. Superior Courts may grant Municipal Courts jurisdiction to handle motor vehicle cases resulting in death or bodily injury.
New Jersey Surrogate's CourtsSurrogate's Courts have jurisdiction over uncontested probate matters, such as admitting wills to probate, appointing personal representatives and administrators of estates, and appointing guardians of minors.
Surrogates are elected county officials as well as judicial officers, and serve as judges of Surrogate's Court and as Deputy Clerks of Superior Court, Chancery Division, Probate and Family Parts. All probate matters and adoption papers must be filed in the Surrogate's Office.
New Jersey Municipal CourtsMunicipal Courts have jurisdiction over certain types of criminal cases.
Cases typically heard by Municipal Courts include felony preliminary hearings, violations of county or municipal ordinances, most violations of motor vehicle and traffic laws, most "disorderly person" offenses and violations of fish, game and boating laws. Municipal Courts may also handle "crimes of the fourth degree" and crimes punishable by imprisonment of less than one year.
Municipal Courts do not have jurisdiction over motor vehicle cases involving death or serious bodily injury, unless jurisdiction over a case is specifically granted by a Superior Court.
Many New Jersey municipalities have consolidated their courts into a single joint court, or agreed to share their individual court services at a single location.
New Jersey Tax CourtThe New Jersey Tax Court has limited jurisdiction to review actions or regulations about tax matters involving a State agency, a State official, a county board of taxation or a county or municipal official. The Tax Court has a Small Claims division for certain tax cases.
The Tax Court will also handle cases transferred from Superior Courts when taxation expertise is appropriate for the case.
The Tax Court hears cases for the entire State and, while court sessions may occur in other cities, the Tax Court Management Office in Trenton handles all contacts and information for the Tax Court.
Where to Find Court Cases in New Jersey
The chart below gives general information on the types of cases heard in each type of New Jersey court.
|Case Type||Court Type|
|Civil||Superior Courts||Surrogate's Courts||Municipal 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||Surrogate's Courts||Municipal Courts|
|Felony Preliminary Hearings|
|Traffic and Infractions|
|Domestic Relations||Superior Courts||Surrogate's Courts||Municipal Courts|
|Child Custody and Visitation|
|Domestic Violence Protection Order|
|Juvenile||Superior Courts||Surrogate's Courts||Municipal Courts|
|Child Abuse and Neglect|
|Termination of Parental Rights|
|Children in Need of Supervision|
|Mental Health||Superior Courts||Surrogate's Courts||Municipal Courts|
|Other Mental Health Cases|
|Probate||Superior Courts||Surrogate's Courts||Municipal Courts|
|Wills & Estates|
|Guardianships and Conservatorships|