• Ronald A. Flate

Protesting your privacy in a divorce proceeding

Dear Clients and Friends,

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably read stories about celebrity divorces, seen their dirty laundry aired in public and maybe even breathed a sigh of relief that you’re not in that boat. But even if you’re a relative nobody, your privacy can still be compromised during a divorce, causing you both emotional and financial harm.

That’s because a divorce is a legal proceeding, and in California and most other states court documents are a matter of public record.

So how can you protect yourself?

First, California and other states allow you to withhold certain highly confidential pieces of information from publicly searchable court documents. This includes Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, your mother’s maiden name and other types of information that can be used for identity theft and fraud purposes — or to gain access to other compromising information about you that you want to keep private. Do check with us to see what kind of identifying information you can protect in court papers and how to do so.

Another way to avoid embarrassment is to think about whether you want to put ugly personal details about your spouse into court filings during a contentious divorce. While it’s understandable that you may want to get an advantage over your spouse and cast him or her in the harshest possible light, remember that he or she could then decide to do the same to you. Most importantly, consider how this now public information will impact your children currently and in the future and, as well your future relationships.

A third way to keep private information private is to avoid court in the first place and opt for an out of court mediation or arbitration. In those formats all paperwork and testimony is private and the only public product are the original generic filings and the final divorce decree with any ugly underlying details so drafted in the decree to limit your public exposure.

Contact us for a free phone evaluation regarding these options.

Best,

Ron

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