Sealing Divorce Records In Florida
Court records, including divorce records, are public in Florida. This means that after a Florida divorce, anyone who wants to view information connected to your divorce can visit the courthouse and request to view your file. Of course, for most divorced couples, it is unlikely that someone will go to the courthouse and ask to view the divorce file; however, the fact that the public can access divorce records can be a genuine concern for some people. Luckily, there are situations in which divorced individuals can have their divorce records hidden from public view in Florida. Convincing the court to seal divorce records can be challenging, but a qualified attorney can help you.
When Can Divorce Records Be Sealed in Florida?
Most people are not concerned about the public accessing their divorce records. Notwithstanding, some people could be negatively affected if their divorce records remain public. A party might want to seek to seal his or her divorce records if, among other things;
- Either or both of the parties are high-profile members of the community
- Either or both of the parties are political figures
- Either or both of the parties are struggling with an addiction
- There were cases of domestic violence or child abuse in the marriage
- There were accusations of mental disease during the divorce
- Public exposure of the divorce records could cause financial harm to one or both parties
However, even if you believe you have a valid reason for sealing your divorce records, you’ll need an attorney to help you. It is up to the judge to decide whether or not to seal your divorce records, and often, judges side with the public’s right to information. Unless you provide a compelling reason to the court as to why your divorce records need to be sealed, the court cannot override the public’s right to information. An attorney can help you convince the judge and get him or her on your side.
Redacting Information in Divorce Records
A judge not willing to hide entire divorce records from the public may be willing to hide parts of the records. The following is some of the sensitive information a judge may be willing to redact or that the clerk is required to redact, upon request by a party’s attorney;
- Bank accounts
- Financial records
- Social security numbers
- Credit card numbers
- Domestic violence victims’ identities
- The full names of a child
- The birth dates of children
The Process of Sealing Divorce Records in Florida
Just as it is with anything else, a procedure must be followed before your Florida divorce records can be sealed. First, some matters are automatically “redacted,” upon an attorney filing the proper request. This is fairly routine in divorces.
Second, for other matters, a motion and affidavit must be filed. The pleadings must set forth with particularity the reasons why certain records should be sealed or redacted and why keeping the divorce records public will cause damage. The more specific you are in your request, the better. For instance, suppose you own a business and believe your business will be adversely affected if the public finds out about your financial details. In such a case, it may be best for you to request that only your financial records related to your divorce be sealed.
After a motion and an affidavit are submitted, the judge will look at several factors before making a decision. For example, a judge may consider whether there are other ways of protecting the parties.
Contact a Jacksonville Divorce Lawyer