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Are Divorce Records Public in Florida?
In the state of Florida, divorce records, like other court records, are public documents and available to the general population. In order to obtain divorce records, all someone has to do is request them from the court clerk in the county where the divorce took place.
Whether it was a divorce or annulment, there could be many reasons why you don’t want the records of the dissolution of your marriage available to the public. The good news is that while divorce records are typically public record, there are steps you can take to keep sensitive information under seal (or hidden and inaccessible to others).
A Motion to Seal Divorce Records
For most people, the fact that divorce records are public is not something to worry about. However, if those records contain sensitive information that could harm one or both parties (or their children), moving to have the records sealed might be a wise course of action.
Unfortunately, getting divorce records sealed isn’t always easy. One or both parties have to prove to the judge that the information contained in the records could be damaging. This is often done through a motion to seal.
There are many reasons you might want to have your divorce records sealed, including:
If you or your former spouse is involved in politics in some way
If you or your spouse are celebrities
If abuse, either involving one of the spouses or one or more of their children, is detailed in the records
If either of the spouses is dealing with an addiction or mental illness
If either spouse could be harmed in some way if the records are made public
Obviously, filing a motion to seal divorce records is a complex process and requires the assistance of a qualified divorce attorney. A good divorce lawyer will know how to take your situation and persuasively explain to the judge that the records of your divorce would be better left under seal. However, no lawyer can guarantee that your records will be sealed as it is up to the judge to make the final decision.
Redacting Sensitive Information
Some personal information such as social security numbers, bank account information, and other sensitive data may automatically be redacted from divorce records so as to protect the parties involved. If, after filing a motion to seal your divorce records with the help of your lawyer the judge dismissed the motion and ordered the records to remain public, one other option you have is to request certain information be redacted.
When lawyers and judges redact sensitive information, they “blackout” that information while leaving the relevant information untouched. This means that the public can still access the records but sensitive or harmful information is no longer legible.
If your divorce records contain such information, especially as it pertains to your children, redacting that information from the divorce records can be a good option. Judges are always seeking to do what is in the best interest of children in any divorce proceedings and he or she might be open to considering redacting information that could negatively affect your child.
Hire a Divorce Lawyer
Whether you are trying to keep your divorce records from being public or trying to navigate your divorce with your sanity intact, it is important that you have competent legal representation. A good family law attorney will know not only how to file a compelling motion to seal, but how to work with you to reach the outcomes you desire.
Divorce can be one of the most traumatic experiences in anyone’s life. In order to make it through, it is important you hire an attorney you can trust. He or she should be a strong communicator and willing to do whatever is necessary and in the best interest of you and your children.
Even if your case seems straightforward, your divorce lawyer will be able to prepare you for unexpected developments and make sure the dissolution of your marriage is settled fairly and in a timely manner.