The Guide to Tennessee Court Records

Overview of Tennessee Courts

The Tennessee trial court system consists of Circuit Courts, Chancery Courts, Criminal Courts, General Sessions Courts, Juvenile Courts, Probate Courts, and Municipal Courts.
 
The Tennessee trial court system consists of four types of general jurisdiction courts and three types of limited jurisdiction courts. Jurisdiction over cases varies by court, case type and county. The general jurisdiction courts are Circuit Courts, Chancery Courts, Criminal Courts and Probate Courts, and these courts generally handle cases that are beyond the jurisdiction of limited jurisdiction courts. The courts with limited jurisdiction are General Sessions Courts, Municipal Courts and Juvenile Courts.

Please select a Tennessee county below to view directory of all courts with links to court record resources for each court.
Find Tennessee court pages by Town or Zip Code.
Select a court record or online resource category below to view all resources at both the statewide and county level.
Go to the court records pages for another state.
Tennessee Circuit Courts
Circuit Courts have general jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases, and share jurisdiction over certain types of cases with other courts. If no court has jurisdiction over a case, it will be heard by Circuit Court.

Circuit Courts and Criminal Courts share original jurisdiction over all criminal cases. In districts that have Criminal Courts, Circuit Courts will generally not exercise jurisdiction over criminal cases.

Circuit Courts share jurisdiction with Chancery Courts over divorce, adoption, arbitration, the release and appointment of trustees, trustee petitions or probate proceedings for the sale of property, partition and distribution of real or personal property, name changes, paternity and cases for the abatement of nuisances.

Circuit Courts may hear cases of an equitable nature if no objection is raised, and Circuit Courts will have the powers of a Chancery Court if an equity case is heard in Circuit Court.

Circuit Courts share civil jurisdiction with Chancery Courts for most general civil cases. Chancery Courts may not handle cases with claims for certain kinds of unliquidated damages, but Chancery Courts may hear most types of civil cases if no objection is raised.

Circuit Courts share jurisdiction with General Sessions Courts over most contract cases within the financial limits of General Sessions Court jurisdiction and some civil cases without financial limit, including cases of forcible entry and detainer and cases for the recovery of personal property.

Circuit Courts share jurisdiction over domestic relations cases with some General Sessions Courts.

Circuit Courts also exercise jurisdiction over disputes about the validity of a will and cases related to arbitration. Circuit Courts have exclusive jurisdiction over cases for the restoration of citizenship.
Tennessee Chancery Courts
Chancery Courts have exclusive original jurisdiction over most cases of an equitable nature and generally handle cases that are beyond the jurisdiction of other courts. Chancery Courts share jurisdiction over certain types of civil cases with other courts.

Chancery Courts share jurisdiction with Circuit Courts over most civil cases. Chancery Courts do not handle cases with certain kinds of unliquidated damages, but a Chancery Court may hear most civil cases if no objection is raised.

Circuit Courts may hear cases of an equitable nature if no objection is raised, and Circuit Courts will have the powers of a Chancery Court if an equity case is heard in Circuit Court.

Chancery Courts share jurisdiction with Circuit Courts over divorce, adoption, arbitration, the release and appointment of trustees, trustee petitions or probate proceedings for the sale of property, partition and distribution of real or personal property, paternity, name changes and the abatement of nuisances. Chancery Courts have some jurisdiction over the appointment of administrators to a decedent\'s estate under certain circumstances. In some counties, Chancery Courts have jurisdiction over the probate of wills, administration of estates and all aspects of guardianships and conservatorships.

Chancery Courts have exclusive jurisdiction over cases filed by the State against corporations, certain types of requests by creditors and cases involving disputes over the boundaries of land.
Tennessee Criminal Courts
Criminal Courts and Circuit Courts share original jurisdiction over all criminal cases. In districts that have Criminal Courts, Circuit Courts will generally not exercise jurisdiction over criminal cases.
Tennessee General Sessions Courts
General Session Courts have jurisdiction over certain types of civil and criminal cases. Levels of jurisdiction for a General Sessions Court may vary from county to county.

Criminal cases heard by General Sessions Court include preliminary hearings in all criminal cases, misdemeanor trials when a jury has been waived and most violations of municipal ordinances. In some counties, jurisdiction over misdemeanors is exclusive. General Sessions Courts may share some jurisdiction over municipal violations with a Municipal Court.

Civil cases heard by General Sessions Court include some general civil cases without financial limit, such as forcible entry and detainer and the recovery of personal property. Jurisdiction is limited for other types of general civil and equity cases to claims for less than $25,000, exclusive of attorney fees and costs.

General Sessions Courts also handle restraining orders and the enforcement of restraining orders. Some complex or expensive cases may be transferred to a general jurisdiction court.

All General Sessions Courts have jurisdiction to grant some injunctive relief. General Sessions Courts may handle cases that include nonsupport, probate matters, juvenile matters or mental health proceedings. Some General Sessions Courts may handle divorce, domestic relations or workers compensation cases. General Sessions Courts handle juvenile cases in counties without a separate Juvenile Court.

Some General Session Courts have a Mental Health Court division, for cases filed under the Mental Health Law and cases involving involuntary commitments.

The General Sessions Court exercises jurisdiction previously granted to justices of the peace for civil and criminal cases.
Tennessee Juvenile Courts
A Juvenile Court is a division of General Sessions Court, unless a county or municipality has established a separate Juvenile Court.

Whether a Juvenile Court operates as a court division or separate court, it has exclusive jurisdiction over most juvenile delinquency and other juvenile cases, including juvenile dependency, child abuse and neglect, minors alleged to be unruly, and judicial consent to employment or military enlistment.

Criminal cases heard by Juvenile Courts include certain violations of parental responsibilities by parents or guardians. Juvenile Courts share jurisdiction with General Sessions Court over the offense of contributing to the delinquency or unruly conduct of a child. Some juvenile delinquency cases involving certain types of crimes are transferred to other courts to prosecute the juvenile as an adult. Juvenile Courts have jurisdiction over juvenile traffic offenses, but may transfer these cases to Municipal Courts.

Juvenile Courts also share jurisdiction over some cases with Circuit Courts, Chancery Courts and Probate Courts. Juvenile Courts share jurisdiction with Circuit Courts and Chancery Courts over paternity cases, custody and other related matters to children of unmarried parents, and cases arising from the 1980 Hague Convention on International Child Abduction. Juvenile Courts share jurisdiction over child support with other courts that generally handles child support cases.

Juvenile Courts share jurisdiction with Probate Courts over the treatment or commitment of a child with a developmental delay or mental illness, some cases involving guardianship of a child and judicial consent to marriage. Juvenile Courts share jurisdiction with Chancery Courts over cases involving termination of parental or guardianship rights. Juvenile Courts may transfer domestic relations cases to Circuit Courts, Chancery Courts or General Sessions Court.

Juvenile Courts may have a Teen Court division for certain types of juvenile delinquency cases, including assault, burglary, theft of property, vandalism, forgery, unauthorized use of a vehicle, disorderly conduct, harassment, traffic offenses, runaways, truancy, curfew violations and some drug offenses.
Tennessee Probate Courts
Probate Courts have exclusive jurisdiction over the probate of wills and the administration of estates. Probate Courts also have jurisdiction over guardianships and conservatorships.

Probate Courts share jurisdiction with Chancery Court, Circuit Court and General Sessions Courts over certain types of cases.
Tennessee Municipal Courts
Municipal Court jurisdiction varies from city to city, including the levels of fines and incarceration a particular Municipal Court can impose.

Municipal Courts generally handle most municipal ordinance violations and certain types of criminal cases. Some Municipal Courts have jurisdiction over some municipal ordinances that mirror state criminal laws, including driving without a license, reckless driving and underage alcohol offenses.

Some Municipal Courts do not have jurisdiction over municipal ordinances that mirror certain violations of state law, if a General Sessions Court has jurisdiction over the case.

Municipal Courts may handle juvenile traffic violations if jurisdiction is waived by a juvenile judge.

Municipal Courts are also referred to as "City Courts."
Tennessee Drug Treatment Courts
Courts that handle criminal cases may have a Drug Treatment Court division that handles eligible nonviolent criminal cases when the defendant is chemically dependent or has a history of substance abuse.

Where to find court cases in Tennessee
The chart below gives general information on the types of cases heard in each type of court in Tennessee.
 
Most Cases = Most or all cases.     Some Cases = Some cases.

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

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