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Public Exposure: preserving privacy during divorce litigation

If you are thinking about divorce but suspect it may result in a heated court battle, you may be worried about the impact such litigation will have on your personal and professional reputation. This is a valid and completely understandable fear. When divorce results in heated drama and the stakes are high for you or your business, all options within your wheelhouse should be used to protect your privacy and avoid negative publicity. Your attorney can help protect your reputation during this time and in the future. 

Documents filed in court are public record

As a general rule, anything filed with the court is public knowledge. So, when a document is filed with the court, there is little expectation of privacy. All legal actions are controlled by Rules of Court for the jurisdiction, which dictate when and how items are filed and what information must be included or excluded. Most courts have rules which require redaction or blacking out of sensitive information such as social security numbers, financial information, or the names of minor children or victims in court documents.

Alternatives

Because all court filings are public record, consider alternative means to make the break from your spouse. A savvy negotiation strategy may get your ex to agree to a confidential stipulation and settlement. Mediation proceedings are confidential. Another option is hiring a retired judge to preside over the entire case privately.

Your role in protecting privacy

There are a few things you can do to protect yourself as well. During divorce proceedings, try to keep a low public profile. Consider reducing social appearances, instead opting to mingle in private settings. Importantly, use caution or avoid social media posts, as the information could be used to your disadvantage, regardless of whether it involves your ex. Do not vent to your friends about the divorce, instead talk it out with a mental health counselor who is legally bound by confidentiality rules.

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