When a couple chooses to divorce, especially when the divorce involves significant assets or standing in the community, keeping the matter private is both crucial and complicated. In general, family court documents are public records, meaning that whatever happens in the courtroom is available to anyone who wants to review those public records to find it.
However, it is sometimes possible to compel the court to seal records and keep the process private, either in whole or in part. If you believe that privacy is important in your divorce, be sure to consider the steps you can take to seal your divorce's court documents and keep your private matters just that -- private.
It is always wise to enlist the guidance of an experienced attorney to help you navigate divorce and protect your rights and priorities. For those with significant assets and liabilities involved, especially complex assets that may affect many other parties, such as a business, legal guidance is essential. Without professional help from an experienced local attorney, your rights and privileges may suffer, particularly your privacy.
Why a court may seal records of a divorce
As you research your options, it is important to maintain reasonable expectations. You may find that a court seals some records, but not all of them. In most divorces, the records remain public unless both parties request that the court seal certain files or portions of files, to protect something specific.
If you hope to seal the records of your divorce, it is wise to make it a priority from the beginning of the process, and communicate that clearly to your spouse and other family and community members who may have access to your lives.
Whenever a divorce involves some form of abuse against a child, courts generally agree to seal records to protect the dignity and privacy of the child. Courts may also seal records to protect spouses suffering domestic abuse, or similar circumstances.
There are also business or financial justifications that a court may recognize. If you and your spouse or children disclose private identification information like your social security number or banking information, a court generally allows you to seal these pieces of information, for obvious reasons.
Finally, a court may agree to seal records that discuss information about a business, especially business secrets. If your divorce could compromise the viability of a business, or pose some other threat, a court may agree to seal records that deal with this portion of your divorce.
Build the team you need to achieve your divorce priorities
The sooner that you begin building a personalized strategy for your divorce, the better. There are hundreds of ways that a divorce with significant assets can turn ugly, and without proper guidance, you may suffer needlessly. Be sure to reach out to an experienced attorney to help you understand which aspects of your divorce a court may agree to seal and understand how to achieve your divorce goals efficiently and effectively.