No matter how personal the issues raised in a divorce case are, as a general rule the records associated with these proceedings are public. In other words, a person who is not a party to a divorce case is able to access divorce records through the office of the clerk of the court if he so desires. But some unique situations warrant the sealing of divorce records. If you believe that your case warrants such privacy, you need to understand how to seal divorce records.
Discuss the matter of sealing your divorce records with your spouse (or former spouse, if the case is concluded). You have a far better chance of prevailing on a motion to seal divorce records if the other party is in agreement.
Draft an affidavit (a written statement made under oath). The affidavit needs to set forth the specific reasons why you believe your divorce records must be sealed. For example, if your divorce records contain confidential information about a business that you and your spouse own, you need to include that fact in the affidavit. Another scenario is if you, your spouse or particularly your children suffer from some sort of disease of condition that warrants heightened protection.
Sign the affidavit in front of a notary public.
Write a motion requesting that the court seal divorce records, or you could request the court to seal specific divorce records. A court is more likely to agree to seal some but not all divorce records. Sample motion forms typically are available from the clerk of the court. Reference the affidavit in the motion using this language:
"An affidavit, executed under oath, is appended hereto and incorporated herein as if set forth in its entirety."
Note within the motion that your spouse or former spouse agrees with the request to seal records (if that is the case).
File the motion with the clerk of the court.
Request a hearing date for your motion. A hearing date is scheduled either through the clerk of the court or through the judge's administrative assistant.
Attend the hearing and present evidence and arguments in favor of the motion to seal divorce court records. The judge will issue her decision following the hearing.
- "Essential Guide to Divorce;" Emily Doskow; 2008
- Divorce Source: Sealing the Record of Your Divorce Case
- "The Divorce Organizer & Planner;" Brette Sember; 2004