A divorce is a private matter that involves a great deal of significant personal, and possibly embarrassing, information regarding you, your spouse, or your children. Therefore, the last thing you want is to have your private information accessible to your friends, family, and community. However, in the state of Florida, there are almost no limitations on the access to court records. Any individual may request copies of your divorce from the clerk of court, and no notice will be provided to you. Therefore, if you are concerned about your private information being easily accessible to the public discuss with your Florida Divorce Attorney the possibility of sealing your divorce record.
If you wish to have your divorce record sealed, you will need to file a motion with factual reasoning behind the need to seal these records. Because Florida provides a great deal of weight to an individual’s right to Free Speech and access to the courts and records, this is a high threshold to overcome. The action of sealing a court record is wholly within the discretion of the court and is a difficult ruling to obtain. However, if you provide the court with significant evidence as the privacy necessary in your divorce, it is likely your request will be granted. Some reasoning the court has held to be compelling enough to seal a couple’s divorce record includes: your status in the community as a high profile member or political figure; if domestic violence or abuse was present between the couple; if child abuse was involved; if a spouse’s health records including physical or mental incapacitation was a consideration in the divorce proceeding; if substance abuse or addiction was present; or if the records could financially harm a spouse or business. These reasons will need to be plead with specificity. For example, if you own a business in the community or are a public figure you will need to describe your community involvement and how this information will be used against you or your business, harming your ability to provide financially for your family.
Outside of full concealment of your divorce record, you may request certain documents to be confidential. When filing documents such as Financial Affidavits, social security numbers, bank account information, business information, domestic violence records, and children’s information, you may file a Notice of Confidential Information attached to these documents. Within this notice, you will alert the clerk to the sensitive information contain within the document and designate what information is private or if the entire document is confidential. The court will always mark these documents as confidential and keep these items from the public eye.
Privacy and protecting your family is a large concern for many individuals, even outside of a divorce. However, with such private information involved with a divorce proceeding, it may be imperative to consider the option to seal your divorce records. Contact an experienced Florida Divorce Attorney today to discuss the reasoning for your need to seal these records and if this may be an available option for you.
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