With very few exceptions, all documents in court files are classified as public records. Most filings in a divorce case, from the opening petition to the final judgment, can be inspected by anyone who visits the courthouse in which the divorce was prosecuted during regular business hours. Jurisdictions vary regarding exceptions to public access.
In most states, documents filed with the court -- from wills to death penalty litigation -- are considered public documents that may be viewed by anyone who comes to the courthouse. This includes divorce documents. Certain jurisdictions provide for viewing of court files over the Internet.
When Privacy Prevails
Each state legislature carves out exceptions to this rule it deems necessary. Documents detailing domestic abuse are considered private in some states, as are documents gathered as part of a person's psychological evaluation. Another common exception involves judicial work product, including a judge's notes, internal staff memos and document drafts.