Are Divorce Records a Matter of Public Record?

By Wayne Thomas

The divorce process can be highly invasive. Yet the disclosure of intimate personal details can be necessary to establish why a divorce is being sought and to resolve financial matters and child custody issues. After the divorce is over, court records generally remain available to public inspection.

Public Record

Although the specific laws can vary from state to state, court records in a divorce proceeding generally remain in the public record. This transparency helps ensure accountability for the courts and also serves to verify to others that an event, such as a divorce, actually occurred. However, in some cases, confidentiality is necessary in order to protect a person involved in the divorce, and judges in most states have the discretion to seal or otherwise make private any potentially harmful court records. Confidentiality might be appropriate in cases involving sexual abuse of a child, but would most likely not apply to cases where a party simply believes that a particular allegation is embarrassing.

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