Is Divorce Court Open to the Public?

By Wayne Thomas

Divorce proceedings necessarily involve the disclosure of highly personal and often intimate details. For that reason, a couple may desire that their divorce be held in private. However, in most states, unless there are specific circumstances requiring confidentiality, members of the public are allowed to be present during your divorce trial.

Public Access

Although states can vary, divorce hearings are usually open to the public. However, if your case involves minor children, particularly if there are allegations of physical or sexual abuse, a judge may decide to hold all or part of a hearing in private. In addition, if confidentiality is very important to you and your spouse, most divorces may be resolved through private negotiation or mediation in lieu of a divorce trial. Mediation is generally not open to the public.

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Are Divorce Records a Matter of Public Record?

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What Is a Deposition in a Divorce?

In its most general sense, a deposition is a form of testimony where participants in a case make oral statements under oath. A divorce deposition is usually a formal way of learning new information pertinent to a divorce case. For example, a deposition might cover issues pertaining to the couple’s assets, including ownership of joint property and the value of the property. A deposition might also cover child custody issues, including a discussion of each parent’s ability to care for the child. Although the exact rules and procedures for divorce depositions vary by state, depositions during a divorce generally take place only during contested divorces.

What Is a Unilateral Divorce?

Unilateral divorce describes a divorce in which one spouse terminates the marriage without the consent of the other spouse. Spouses can do this by filing for divorce on no-fault grounds, which allows couples to divorce regardless of whether the other spouse consents and without casting blame on the other spouse for the marriage coming to an end. Regardless of the state you live in, you may file for no-fault divorce.

How to File a Divorce Disclosure Statement

Before a divorce is finalized, most states require the parties to file a disclosure statement, which sets out their assets and liabilities. These statements give the court information about the finances of the parties and assist the court in reaching an equitable division of property. Because divorce is a matter of state law, the process varies slightly among states. However, it is substantially similar in all states. You should familiarize yourself with the laws in your state.

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