Most court proceedings and filings in Ohio are public. You may be surprised to learn that divorce cases are no exception. Generally, if you get divorced the traditional way, a curious person could look up sensitive information about you that came out during the divorce, such as your income and financial holdings, and whether you or your ex is receiving spousal maintenance. If you or your spouse is a celebrity, politician or otherwise a prominent individual, these details could end up in new reports.
There are two ways to get around having your private data be put on the public record during your divorce. You can try to get the judge to file some or all of your divorce records under seal. Or you can use an alternative method of dissolving your marriage, such as collaborative divorce.
Sealing your divorce records
It is possible to convince an Ohio family court judge to seal your divorce records, but it is not easy. The legal presumption is that the public has the right to review court records. To overcome this, you would have to show that your right to privacy over personal matters outweighs that right to public transparency. Reasons a judge might agree to file your divorce under seal include:
- The need to protect your children from identification
- The need to protect proprietary business information
- The need to keep sensitive information, such as your bank account numbers, private
- The need to protect victims of domestic violence
Sometimes, judges will agree to seal only part of the record, so that sensitive facts are kept sealed, while also respecting the public’s right to know.
Politician’s divorce records put under seal
Recently, former Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel and his wife announced they had gotten divorced. The records of their divorce were almost entirely sealed. It is unclear why, though the fact that Mandel and his ex-wife, Ilana Shafran Mandel, are both well-known in the state might have been a factor.
An alternative way to keep your privacy
Besides trying to get the records sealed, another way to keep your privacy after divorce is to use collaborative divorce. Besides its other advantages, collaborative divorce is a confidential process. None of your private information will go beyond you, your spouse, and your attorneys.
To learn more about your options for a smooth and confidential divorce, contact a family law attorney in your area.