Like most other court proceedings, divorces eventually become public knowledge. This means anyone can gain a copy of your divorce pleadings, which include information regarding your marriage, finances and children.
Many individuals cannot bear the thought of their private lives being aired to the public. For those who have a high net worth or are local or national public figures, it becomes even more important to keep private information away from the public and the press. Certain information could damage an individual’s professional and personal reputation.
By working with an experienced family law attorney, an individual can use various options to limit the information that becomes public during a divorce.
Many people think of divorce as an adversarial situation. Each spouse has his or her own side in court and fights for what he or she wants. However, a divorce does not have to be a contested matter. Spouses who want to end their marriage and avoid a long court battle can undergo a collaborative divorce.
Through their attorneys and other professional consultants, spouses themselves work out divorce-related issues, such as the division of property, allocation of parental responsibilities and time, child support, and spousal support. Once all of these matters are sorted, the attorneys draft the documents to finalize in court. While these documents will not be confidential, the attorneys can ensure the information is straightforward and limits details that are unnecessary to the court and do not need to be made public.
Overall, collaborative divorces require less paperwork to be filed and fewer chances for private information to be included in the public divorce record.
If the spouses are going through a contested divorce and information within the pleadings is confidential or potentially injurious if made public, a spouse can request that the court place certain information under seal. This would mean documents containing sealed information will not be available to the public.
However, in order for a judge to grant this request, the spouse must show good cause and a likely injury. Examples of good cause are if the information could be harmful to children, identifies victims of sexual or domestic abuse, makes public confidential business information, or spreads potentially false allegations.
Under Illinois law, certain personal identifiable information like social security numbers must automatically be redacted or excluded from public record.
Incorporate your Financial Settlement by Reference
A final way to avoid making your private information public is by incorporating your financial settlement by reference within your final divorce decree. In this situation, the judge will state that the settlement agreement is incorporated into the final judgement. However, the settlement is not filed with the court and will not be public record.
Contact a Divorce Attorney
Whether you want to go through a collaborative or contested divorce, an experienced Naperville divorce attorney can protect your rights and help limit the amount of private information included in the public record. No divorce will be entirely confidential, but certain information can be restricted from public view.