Are There Public Records When People File for Divorce?

By Teo Spengler

A divorce may be highly personal, but it isn't secret. Generally, all documents filed in a court action are public records, accessible in the court clerk's office and sometimes over the Internet; divorce records are no exception. Once the dissolution petition is filed with the court, divorce pleadings are generally open to public viewing.

A divorce may be highly personal, but it isn't secret. Generally, all documents filed in a court action are public records, accessible in the court clerk's office and sometimes over the Internet; divorce records are no exception. Once the dissolution petition is filed with the court, divorce pleadings are generally open to public viewing.

Divorce Records Public

A couple may keep their fights and arguments secret, but they cannot do the same with a divorce filing. Divorces commence when one spouse files a complaint or petition to dissolve the marriage. The court clerk opens the case and, immediately, the petition and every other court document filed in the matter becomes public record.

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Exceptions

State laws exempt a few types of filings in divorce court from the general rule of being public record. Some states protect documents detailing domestic abuse from public viewing. Similarly, psychological examinations of spouses and like documents gathered in custody disputes are often kept confidential. All of a judge's notes and first drafts are protected as private, as well as internal memos from her staff.

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Are Divorce Documents Public Record?

References

Related articles

Types of Divorce Motions in Florida

A motion is a formal written request submitted to the court, seeking an order on a specific aspect of a case. These orders commonly compel the other party to do -- or not do -- something, but a party to a divorce can also file a motion requesting a deviation from standards such as child support guidelines. Divorces are adjudicated by the family law division of the Florida court system. Parties to a divorce should file motions in the same county in which the original divorce petition was initiated.

What Happens After You Sign & Notarize Your Divorce Documents?

Each state has unique laws regarding divorce and family law matters, so the actual process of preparing and filing divorce documents is determined by state civil procedure laws and local court rules. The term "divorce documents" may include the petition or complaint for divorce, motions for support and custody, stipulated property divisions, and final settlements and decrees. In general, divorce documents are commonly referred to as “pleadings” or “court filings."

Commonly Asked Questions About Divorce

It's not uncommon to be in the dark about the court system. Many people go their whole lives without ever having to set foot in a courthouse. But if you're considering divorce, it makes sense to educate yourself as much as possible about the process. Understanding the divorce process can help you get past the fear of the unknown and get organized.

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