If you have been through a divorce – or are in the midst of one– you may want to keep the very personal and private information contained therein out of the public arena. The fact is that you do not have to be wealthy or be a celebrity to want to keep your divorce records – or court records related to other family law issues – under wraps. Similarly, you do not have to be a celebrity for others to be interested in your private matters. There are a number of practical reasons why you might want to keep the information contained in your court records as private as you possibly can, and an experienced family law attorney can help you with that.
Sealing a Court File
There is a mechanism for sealing a court file from public view, but the system for doing so can be quite onerous. Once a file is sealed, however, it remains unavailable for public consumption unless it successfully undergoes the process of being unsealed, which involves all of the following:
- The appropriate motion is filed.
- The court holds a hearing.
- The Court orders that the file in question be unsealed and made available to the public.
Because there is a presumption that court records should remain open to the public, anyone attempting to seal a court record faces the burden of proving that there is a compelling reason for doing so. To seal a court record, the person attempting to do so must be able to demonstrate a serious, substantial, and specific reason that is more compelling than the presumption of maintaining open records. Finally, the court does not seal an entire file – instead, the person requesting a seal must meet the necessary burden for every portion of every record he or she wants to be sealed. In other words, it is complicated.
Family Law Cases and Exceptions
When it comes to family law, the records that are filed (under Family Code) are not held to the same stringent standards in relation to file sealing. If you are motivated to seal a file that relates to your family law issue – such as divorce, child custody, child support, or any other family law concern – you can ask the court involved to seal the file. In turn, the court’s discretion in the matter is nearly complete. Because of the important privacy implications inherent to such files, requests to seal them are often granted by the courts. An important exception, however, is that any Orders or Opinions provided by the court in the course of your family law matter may not be sealed from public viewing.
You Need an Experienced Attorney on Your Side
Whatever your family law concern, attorney Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Killeen, Texas, is committed to helping you find a suitable resolution that works for you. Mr. Pritchard has the experience, skill, and resources to help, so please do not hesitate to contact or call us at 254-501-4040 for more information today.