When couples decide to divorce, both individuals should understand that the forthcoming legal proceedings usually involve documents and records becoming a matter of public record.
Such disclosure may be uncomfortable and problematic. Divorcing individuals are wise to educate themselves about what it means for these papers to be open to everyone.
Filing divorce papers
Launching divorce proceedings requires filing a divorce petition, financial statements and other documents with the court. Once this happens, the contents generally become accessible to anyone. This means that friends, family members or strangers can request and review these files.
The public nature of divorce papers is a concern for many. Some feel uncomfortable with their personal and financial information being subject to scrutiny. The potential for embarrassment is significant, and couples may experience awkward encounters with others privy to the intimate details of their private lives.
Potential for misuse
The capacity for abuse is undeniable. Someone could use the available information to harass or inflict emotional distress on one or both parties. There is also the possibility of identity theft. There are more than 50,000 reports of such crimes in America every year.
Petitioning the sealing of records
Parties undergoing a divorce may ask that the court seal their records, making them confidential and inaccessible to prying eyes. That said, courts typically only grant such requests in specific circumstances.
Anyone going through a divorce should understand that certain information is in danger of exposure. Protecting the most privileged details is bound to help make post-marriage life easier.