There are few things in life as painful as a divorce. After going through an extended period of scrutiny at the hands of friends and family, you just want the process to end. In the U.S., however, our court proceedings are a matter of public record. Without good cause for your records to be suppressed, it’s likely that nothing stands between your nosy neighbor and your divorce records.
There are compelling instances, however, for a judge to grant a motion to seal your divorce records.
What does it mean to file a divorce under seal?
While keeping most court records in the public realm serves to increase accountability, our judicial system allows for the suppression of information that could cause undue harm to a person or business. when the court determines that undue harm will occur, the file is sealed and only parties to the case, their attorneys, and the court can access the file.
Strong cases for sealing a divorce record
- protecting a child’s identity
- protecting a victim’s identity (in cases of domestic abuse)
- protecting sensitive personal information (SSN, account numbers)
- protecting proprietary business information
- protecting the interests of person with high net worth
- protecting the interests of public officials
In the state of Colorado, with or without your spouse’s support, you can file a motion requesting that the courts seal your divorce records. Even if a judge grants your motion to seal your record, it’s unlikely that they will seal the entire record. In many cases, judges will seal only what is necessary, possibly only redacting names or financial documents throughout your documents before releasing the rest to a public database.
Although suppressing your entire divorce record is unlikely, it would be wise to consult an expert to determine if you have a case for a sealed record.