There are many reasons why you might want to keep the specifics of your divorce out of the public eye. Despite this desire, divorce records are generally available to the public. The good news is that there are options available that could help you keep many of the details of your divorce private.
The general public might have the right to access or even copy public divorce records, but there are ways to resolve many of the major issues in a divorce outside of open court. This could help you maintain your privacy as your relationship comes to an end.
Keeping Divorce Records Private
There are some aspects of your divorce that must remain public. After all, you cannot formally divorce without going through the court system. The end result of any divorce is a formal court order that terminates the marriage. Keeping the specific details of your divorce private could be possible even with a final divorce decree being necessary.
The reasons for keeping information regarding your marriage private can vary. Often, the dealings between divorcing spouses can be embarrassing or highly sensitive. If a divorce case goes to trial, there is a good chance that things like phone records, emails, or receipts could be entered into the public record. These documents could expose issues like affairs, alcohol dependency, gambling addiction, or allegations of abuse.
There are different tools that could be used to keep this type of information out of the public eye. If both parties can agree on the major points of a divorce—child custody, spousal support, and property division—it could be possible to complete the divorce process without the need for litigation. It is during contested hearings and trials that this type of evidence could become part of the public record.
Mediation in St. Louis and Missouri
Another important tool that could be used to resolve a divorce is mediation. Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution. Instead of litigating issues at trial, the two side sit down with a mediator in a private setting. The mediator works with both spouses in an effort to bring them to a point of resolution. In many cases, spouses that believed settlement was not an option find that it is possible to meet on common ground.
What’s more, mediations happen in private and the results are not part of the permanent record. By resolving disputes in mediation as opposed to in open court, it could be possible to prevent sensitive details of the marriage from becoming public.
Sealing Divorce Records in Missouri and St. Louis
There are also options for sealing court records after the divorce concludes. While this does not remove private information from the court record, it does limit public access to that information. This option is not as strong as keeping the information out of the public eye entirely, but it does provide for privacy for some people that go through a divorce.
Judges have fairly broad discretion when it comes to sealing court records. While this means that sealing these records might be an option, there is never a guarantee that a judge will agree to do so. Most of the time, the court is more likely to seal records that pertain to minor children under the age of 18.
While the court can seal records on its own in some cases, it generally requires one of the parties to request it. A judge can honor this request if one or both parties can make the case that leaving these records unsealed could lead to specific and tangible threats to important values.
Sealing these records can be a challenging on your own. Assisting you with sealing records in your divorce case is only one of the ways J. Rench Law, LLC might be able to help.
Discuss Your Divorce with J. Rench Law, LLC
Divorce records are generally available to the public. While state law presumes that public access to these records is valuable, there are situations where the court will seal those records from public view.
Our firm is dedicated to protecting the privacy of our clients while aiding them in the dissolution of their marriage. If you are ready to learn more about your options, contact us for an initial consultation as soon as possible.