Baltimore County Family Lawyer Discusses Sealing Divorce Records
There are any number of reasons why an individual would want to have public records sealed. In cases involving criminal issues, it is not uncommon for the accused party to seek to have his or her records closed to the public. But what about in cases involving family law--particularly divorce cases? Can divorce records be sealed?
Public Records and Privacy Issues
The issue of sealing divorce records was recently discussed in Alabama when the governor and his wife decided to go their separate ways after 50 years of marriage and immediately sought to have the divorce records sealed. An Alabama judge granted that request, which raised a question in the minds of the media and others who disagreed with the sealing of the record: Had the couple involved been just an average couple, would they have been allowed to have their divorce records sealed?
Court proceedings, including divorce proceedings, are typically public matters in Maryland and elsewhere throughout the country. What that means is the proceedings will be deemed matters of public record, unless a judge agrees to file the divorce under seal. When courts file divorce records under seal, any sensitive or confidential information contained in the records will be kept private and will not be made public. Individuals should be aware that a court can order a couple’s entire divorce record or part of the record be sealed.
What Is Required to Have Divorce Records Sealed?
A court will not seek to seal a couple’s divorce records on its own. The individual seeking the divorce will have to ask the court to seal the records and it will be left up to a judge to decide whether or not to grant the motion.
There are a number of considerations a judge will take into account, including whether the damage to the party seeking to have the records sealed from the public outweighs the presumption that such records are public and subject to scrutiny.
The reasons for asking to have a divorce filed under seal can range from needing to protect the couple’s children from being identified in the divorce records, to needing to protect domestic violence victims, to protecting private business information.
As your Towson divorce lawyer will tell you, any request to have divorce records sealed must be narrowly tailored -- meaning it must not attempt to seal more than is necessary. If a Maryland court or any other state’s court decides to allow the divorce records to be sealed, it will usually only seal the information necessary to protect the privacy interests at issue. You should note that narrow requests to seal divorce records will fare better with a judge than requests seeking to seal the entire divorce record.
Alabama’s governor and first lady sought to have their records sealed due to his “prominent office in the state of Alabama,” and they noted that “it would be in their best interest for the public not to be able to access the record in the divorce action.”
However, you do not have to be a prominent government official or celebrity to seek to have your divorce records sealed. If you would like to find out more about the possibility of having your divorce records closed to the public, contact the Law Offices of Amar Weisman, LLC as soon as possible.
Call For a Free Consultation
Call The Law Offices of Amar S. Weisman at (410) 321-4994 to schedule a Free Consultation. The Purpose of the consultation is to determine whether you want to retain this law firm as your Baltimore & Towson Family Lawyer. If you do wish to proceed, then you must pay a retainer. See Our Policy on Fees and Costs. The family firm is located next to The Circuit Court for Baltimore County, at 1018 Dulaney Valley Road, Towson, MD 21204.