How to keep your divorce private

Getting divorced is hard enough, but when the details of your case are made public it can be even worse. Unfortunately, most documents filed with a court during a divorce are accessible to anyone upon request. Because of this, many people worry about the disclosure of sensitive information such as child custody arrangements and financial documents.

If you and your ex-spouse are going through a divorce, can you keep it private? Fortunately, the answer is yes. While privacy laws protect the accessibility of information between spouses, there are additional steps you can take as well.

It’s nobody’s business

If you want to keep your divorce private, begin by carefully choosing who you discuss details with. Avoid talking about it publicly or discussing it with coworkers, business partners and friends. Choose only a few trusted confidants, including family members, until you are ready to go public. And if you need a truly secret divorce, you can speak to professionals such as therapists and attorneys who have a legal obligation to keep your information private.

One of the best ways to keep your records private is to avoid court in the first place.  Mediation allows the couple a higher level of control.  While financial disclosures will be exchanged, none of the court documents or supporting information are filed with the court.  Instead, you file under penalty or perjury that you properly exchanged the required information.  Couples that are not mediating will still privately exchange disclosures.  However, as litigated cases are typically more contentious, further discovery efforts may be made.  This information could be filed with the court as evidence in a pending motion or at trial.  If that is the case speak with your attorney about the manner that the information is filed, redacting pertinent information or other steps that may be taken to protect your information.

Finally, you can ask the court to seal the entire case, a portion of the case or certain documents, although it is uncommon for the courts to do so. A judge may consider sealing records for the purpose of protecting a child to keep the anonymity of details for the party that suffered domestic violence or to safeguard business/proprietary data.  If a judge remains unconvinced that an entire case should be sealed you can ask for a specific part of the case or document including sensitive information, to be removed.

The news will come out when the time is right

Divorce can often leave you feeling exposed, especially if your spouse leaks private details on social media or if your case goes to trial. And with high profile divorces that are under public scrutiny the stakes are even higher.

Keeping divorce private doesn’t just benefit you, but your entire family. Before you get to the final step of divorce assure you take all the necessary precautions to ensure as little information as possible is exposed.