Court proceedings are typically public record (including divorce proceedings). Unless divorce records are sealed, any legal filings in the proceeding will be public record, which means the public can easily access them. Exceptions to the general rule that leaves divorce records open to the public include court records that contain identifying information for children or victims or information about sexual abuse. The state of California also seals paternity case records. If you are involved in a California divorce and your case does not fall into any of the above categories, the records will be public unless you request that they are sealed.
When the court files California divorce records under seal, all the info included in the case is kept private. Sealed records are not a matter of public record, or in other words, they are not available to the public. Sealed records are usually due to cases including sensitive or confidential information. The court can order the records of an entire case sealed, or they can seal specific portions of a case. The California court does not decide to file a case under seal on its own. One of both of the parties involved in the case needs to request that the court seal the records. Once the court receives the motion to seal, they decide whether or not to grant the motion. When making this decision, the court considers the potential damage to the requesting party in comparison to the presumption that court records are public record. Common Reasons California Divorce Records are Sealed:
- Protecting Children Who are Identified in Divorce Records
- Keeping Specific Info Confidential (i.e., social security numbers, bank account numbers, etc.)
- Protecting Victims of Domestic Violence
- Protecting Business Data
If you need to request that the court seal your California divorce records, or if you have questions about how the court determines the validity of a motion to seal during a California divorce, please get in touch with one of the experienced family law attorneys at The Maggio Law Firm today.