• Are divorce records public or private records?

    Because court proceedings are public records, consequently so are divorce records. Some exceptions to this generally public rule include ones that identifies children or victims of sexual abuse. When a court files a divorce proceeding under seal, confidential or sensitive information on that particular divorce becomes and remains a private record. The court is able to put all of the proceeding or parts of the proceeding under seal and it becomes private.

    Some reasons that divorces are usually filed under seal include protecting children from identification, protecting victims from domestic violence, keeping sensitive information including bank account numbers and social security numbers private, and protecting proprietary business information.

    Other reasons that a court may decide to seal a divorce case is if the case will severely damage one party’s reputation. But keep in mind, instances that will just primarily embarrass a party are not likely to be sealed and or made private matters.

    The purpose of keeping records public is for the benefit of the public to know of public matters in the community. Therefore if a party wants to request their particular record to be private, they must prove that the need for privacy outweighs the benefit that is given to the public at whole. Also this request to seal and privatize a divorce proceeding must be narrowly tailored meaning that it must only request to make private the necessary parts, not the entire proceeding. Usually the court will only allow this to be done to the information that will prevent causing a problem to the parties involved. This means that the court may redact parts of the divorce filings instead of full divorce filings.

    Additionally, it is likely that if a party narrowly tailors their privacy request, the court will grant it rather than if the party request entire filings to be privatized.
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