It may not feel like it at times, but a divorce is a form of court proceeding. And like most courtroom matters, what goes on in a divorce is largely a part of the public record. That means that almost anyone can ask to review court filings. If you or your spouse are celebrities or prominent in the community, the details of your dissolution could end up on the news or social media.
Most people in Atlanta do not want strangers finding out their private family business. That is why, when going through divorce, many wealthy or famous individuals ask the family court judge to file their divorce records under seal.
Protecting your privacy in divorce
Judges have the power to seal court records from a specific proceeding, such as a divorce. However, no judge will decide to put records under seal on their own. One of the spouses must request it and present a convincing argument why it is necessary. Then the judge will decide whether the reasons behind the request for privacy outweigh the public’s right to know.
For high-profile Georgians, common reasons to request a seal on their divorce records include:
- Protecting their children from identification
- Protecting sensitive data, such as bank account numbers and proprietary business information
- Preventing the release of false accusations of domestic violence, neglect, fraud, etc
Because of the court’s interest in public transparency, if the judge grants the seal, they probably will tailor it to be as narrow as possible. For example, if one of the spouses requests that the records be sealed to protect their business secrets, the seal would likely cover only filings that include sensitive information about the business. Unrelated filings would remain available to the public.
The unique challenges of divorcing in the public eye
Most people going through divorce are not subject to public scrutiny. Those who are would benefit from hiring a divorce attorney who regularly works with high-income and well-known clients.