Warning about Confidential Court Records
Under Section 78A-2-229, distributing non-public court records outside the parties or the court without prior court authorization is contempt of court or a class B misdemeanor.
Classification of Court Records: Public and Non-Public
District and justice court records are classified into different categories, which include public, private, sealed and protected records.
Most court records are public. Anyone can see and make copies of public records. Rule of Judicial Administration 4-202.02(2).
Some records are private. Only the parties, their lawyers and a few others can view and copy the record. A few examples of private records include:
- Petition for divorce
- Motion to waive 90-day waiting period in a divorce case
- Motion for temporary orders in a child custody case
- Request for protective order
- Victim impact statements
- Medical records
Some records are sealed. In these kinds of cases, even information about the existence of the case is not publicly available. A person seeking access to a sealed record must petition the court for permission to unseal the records.
Some records are protected. This category includes an attorney's work product, records subject to attorney-client privilege, court security plans and some confidential business records. See Rule of Judicial Administration 4-202.02(5) for a full list.
Cases with Public and Private Records
In some cases, there will be a mixture of public and private records. Anyone can see that a case has been filed, and anyone can view the docket of the case to see a list of things that have happened. Access to the records themselves, however will depend on whether the document is public or private. Examples of cases in which there will be a mixture of public and private records include:
- Child Custody and Support
- Protective Orders
- Stalking Injunctions
In these kinds of cases, the petitions and other pleadings are private records, but the orders of the court are public records.
Information in Court Records that is Private
Some pieces of information in an otherwise-public is not public. Examples include personal identifying information such as:
- Social Security number
- Driver's license number
- Bank account number
- Child's name and date of birth
- Address, phone, and email of a non-party
It is the responsibility of the person filing the document to make sure that non-public information is not included in a public document. See the Substitute Information for Non-Public Information section of this page for more information.
The courts began making most public records available online through a subscription to the XChange database in April 2011. See the Court Records web page for more information about where to find court records.
For a complete list of public and non-public records, see Rule of Judicial Administration 4-202.02.
Who has access to private court records?
The following may access a private court record:
- a party or attorney for a party;
- an interested person to an action under the Uniform Probate Code;
- the person who submitted the record;
- the subject of the record or their attorney, or the parent or guardian of the subject of the record if the subject is an unemancipated minor or under a legal incapacity, or a person with a notarized release from the subject of the record.
So, for example, the petitioner and respondent and their lawyers can view and copy the court records in their case, even if they are private. And, in a petition to appoint a guardian or conservator, the interested persons—anyone entitled to notice of the petition—also can view and copy the private court records.
Safeguarding Residential Address From the Other Party
Even private records are usually available to the parties in a case. Sometimes, if it is necessary to protect a person's personal safety, a person can keep her or his residential address from the other party. The person must request this, and it is authorized only for documents related to:
- a protective order - Utah Code Section 78B-7-109(3)
- a stalking injunction - Utah Code Section 77-3a-101(4)
- a parentage order - Utah Code Section 62A-11-304.4(5)
- a custody order- Utah Code Section 78B-13-209(5)
- a support order - Utah Code Section 78B-14-312
The party's address must still be filed with the court, and it may need to be shared with a constable or deputy sheriff for serving papers, or with other governmental agencies, but the information is not shared with the public or the other party except in the circumstances described in the statutes.
Filer Must Omit or Redact Non-Public Information
The person filing a document must exclude any non-public information from it and must declare that s/he has done so. See Rule 4-202.09(9). If you are preparing the document from scratch or completing a court form, omit any non-public information. If you are filing a document prepared apart from the court process that happens to contain non-public information, redact the non-public information. Non-public information contained in a public document will be accessible, possibly on the internet. The judicial services representative will not redact the non-public information for you.
Filer Must Designate Record as Non-Public
If the document being filed is not a public record, the person filing the document must designate it as a non-public record. See Rule 4-202.09(9).
Substitute Information for Non-Public Information
Sometimes a statute or rule will require that you provide non-public information to the court. For example, the name of a child is private, but in a petition for divorce it is necessary to identify the child for purposes of custody, parent-time and support. Rule 4-202.09(9) permits you to include substitute information for some common pieces of private information.
If non-public information is required, include in the public document only the following substitute information:
- social security number: last four digits
- financial or other account number: last four digits
- driver's license number: state of issuance and last four digits
- address of a non-party: city, state and zip code
- date of birth of non-party: month and year of birth
- minor's name: initials
You may still have to provide the court with the non-public information, and you should do so on a separate document. The courts have 4 forms, listed below for providing some of the more common pieces of non-public information to the court in a confidential manner.
When you file a non-public record, identify it as such for the judicial services representative. That will help ensure that the document is properly classified and not mistakenly made available to the public.
Motion to Classify a Record as Non-Public
If the non-public information in a document is so pervasive that it cannot conveniently be redacted, or if filing the non-public information is the primary purpose of the document, file a motion to classify the record as private (or protected). See Rule 4-202.04.
Do not confuse this with asking the court to "seal" the record. Sealed records are rare, such as adoption records and expunged criminal records. Private and protected records are kept secure from public view, but a sealed record is physically sealed, and no one, not even a party, can view or copy the record without a court order. See Rule 4-202.02(3), Rule 4-202.03(2), and Rule 4-205(4).
Forms (Non-Public Information)
- Checklist - PDF | Word
- Non-public Information: Parent Identification and Location -
(Required for parentage or child support)
- Non-public Information: Minors -
(Required if necessary to identify a minor)
- Non-public Information: Safeguarded Address -
(Required if a person is permitted to safeguard a residential address from the other party)
- Non-public Information: Personal Information -
(Required for filing personal identifying information)
Rules (Governing Access to Court Records)
- Rule 4-202. Purpose.
- Rule 4-202.01. Definitions.
- Rule 4-202.02. Records classification.
- Rule 4-202.03. Records access.
- Rule 4-202.04. Request to access a record associated with a case; request to classify a record associated with a case.
- Rule 4-202.05. Request to access an administrative record; research; request to classify an administrative record; request to create an index.
- Rule 4-202.06. Response to request to access or classify a court record.
- Rule 4-202.07. Appeals.
- Rule 4-202.08. Fees for records, information, and services.
- Rule 4-202.09. Miscellaneous.
- Rule 4-205. Security of court records.