Under the Freedom of Information Act, court documents are a matter of public record. The purpose of this act is to increase transparency in court proceedings so that the public can see what happens in public courts, and to exhibit what type of information drives court decisions. Divorce records are included in the documents that become public record, and are available to anyone with or without a legitimate purpose.
In the case of a high-profile divorce, this unfortunately can often be journalists looking for juicy and salacious details. The information stored in a divorce file can include:
- Financial information including all assets and debts
- Company financials if one spouse is a business owner
- Property settlement agreements
- Complaints and unproven allegations made by the other spouse
- Psychological and/or parenting evaluations
In general, divorce documents filed with the court are accessible to anyone who wishes to view them, unless they have been sealed by a court order. Individuals wishing to have their divorce records sealed must submit a request to the court for review. Then the court decides whether the damage done to the party asking outweighs the public’s right courtroom transparency. Commonly cited reasons to seal portions of divorce records include:
- To protect sensitive information such as social security numbers and bank account numbers to avoid identity theft
- To protect children’s identity
- To protect victims of domestic violence or sexual abuse
- To protect proprietary business information
- To preserve the confidentiality of family financial data
Though courts have been known in some cases to seal divorce records for the above reasons, celebrities and other high-profile individuals may cite many more reasons to keep the details of their divorce proceedings out of the public eye.
Unfortunately, the mere risk of exposure of embarrassing information is not sufficient to warrant the sealing of divorce records. Concerns about privacy should be discussed early on with your divorce attorney. He or she will discuss options with you and work to determine the best course of action to preserve your family’s good name.
Celebrity couples commonly choose to settle out of court in order to reduce the amount of information made available to the public. An experienced divorce lawyer can inform you of the rules in your jurisdiction. Some states grant document access only to those individuals who are directly involved in the case.
In addition to protecting you from the prying eyes of the public, a divorce process that prioritizes confidentiality can also help to protect your most valuable asset – your children. Parents who fail to shield their children from the more ugly aspects of their divorce risk doing irreparable harm to their children’s emotional wellbeing. All children, regardless of their family’s social status, are tremendously impacted by their parents’ decision to divorce. Sadly, children of public figures often must deal with the added strain of having to watch their family fall apart under the glare of the public eye.
Baltimore County Divorce Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Handle High-profile Divorce Cases
Baltimore County divorce lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC understand the need for privacy in divorce. Our experienced team of Maryland family lawyers will handle your divorce with sensitivity and care while working to find reasonable and expeditious resolutions to your domestic issues. To learn about divorce in Maryland and how our firm can help you preserve your privacy, contact us online or call our Hunt Valley offices at 443-589-0150 today to schedule your free consultation. We handle family law matters in Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Towson, Bel Air, Columbia, Westminster and Essex.