In general, divorce court proceedings are public. Thus, unless a judge agrees to seal the divorce records, all divorce filings and information become available to the public. But family courts have established exceptions to open court records, particularly for cases that involve minor children and abuses. In addition, they make sure some aspects of a washington state divorce record are sealed including information such as the social security number of the party.
Why Some Divorce Records May Need to be Sealed
Divorce proceedings can get ugly and those involved may want these to be sealed to keep them from the public eye. By sealing records, confidential or sensitive information related to the divorce is kept private. Courts can order a part of the divorce proceedings or their entire record to be filed under seal. Couples who want their records to be sealed must demonstrate that their right to privacy outweighs their right to public transparency. Some of the reasons they can use include the need to protect their children from being identified, protect domestic violence victims, maintain the confidentiality of sensitive information like bank account numbers, and protect their proprietary business information.
Petitioning the Family Court
Couples who think they have enough reason to seal their divorce records can petition the family court to do so. They should keep in mind that the majority of judges don’t usually grant a motion to seal these records unless they think making the records public can significantly harm the requesting party. Before the judge makes their decision, they must weigh out how making the court records open to the public can harm the party that requested for their sealing. A party can hire a reliable family attorney to represent an argument citing specific reasons the records must be sealed.
Sealing Only Necessary Information
Those who are asking a judge to seal their divorce court records should know that their request must be customized to their circumstances. Apart from laying out any possible injury to them, their request should only seek to seal necessary information. Should a judge agree to seal divorce records, they will decide the specific records that can be put under seal, protecting the involved party’s privacy.
Apart from trying to get divorce records sealed by a judge, couples can also keep their privacy following divorce by using collaborate divorce. This kind of divorce is a confidential process, which means all pieces of information obtained will be kept between the parties involved.