Divorce Records Are Public

May 4, 2020

Separating couples who go through divorce proceedings may not realize what happens in court may become public record. This does not mean that it will be broadcasted on the local news. However, in some states, interested parties can request copies of divorce petitions and final divorce decrees from county clerks or obtain them through other means.


There are certain exceptions to open court records, including the identity of children and sexual abuse victims. In child custody orders, children are normally referred to by their initials only, any identifying information is kept confidential. Almost every state keeps domestic violence filings and financial disclosures private.

Those who have legitimate privacy concerns may have the option of having their divorce records sealed; in limited situations, judges will agree to do this. One example could be a situation in which one spouse makes false allegations, which could damage the other’s reputation. Also, if a spouse owns a business, they may have genuine concerns that the company will be harmed if their assets and debt information is shared.

Obtaining Divorce Records

Nowadays, people are more closely connected than ever, and it is relatively simple to access someone’s divorce records. It is even possible to hire an agency to carry out background checks for nominal fees. This means that an outside party could gain access to a divorced person’s history, including adultery and addiction.

Sealing Records

Most states require spouses to file requests or motions to seal records. There also needs to be an affidavit to explain the reasoning behind the request. Good cause must be shown, which details why the person’s privacy, employment, or reputation will be damaged if the records are made public.

Requests to seal divorce records must be narrowly tailored, so applicants should ensure to keep their documentation very specific. Trying to have additional information or the entire record sealed could lead to a denial. The privacy concerns should be clearly defined. Obtaining actual permission to seal the records is not always easy since judges do take these matters seriously. If the court agrees to seal them, it is important to follow up afterwards to ensure that the process was completed correctly.

Best Option to Maintain Privacy

It is not always possible, but staying out of court is the best choice to maintain one’s privacy. When divorce issues are settled this way, it is easier to maintain control over personal information. Court documents still need to be filed, but they will only contain basic legal information of the divorce.

Media Divorce Lawyers at Eckell Sparks Understand the Importance of Privacy

Our experienced Media divorce lawyers at Eckell, Sparks, Levy, Auerbach, Monte, Sloane, Matthews & Auslander, P.C. will explain your rights and help you determine the best way to keep your divorce private. For a confidential consultation, contact us online or call us at 610-565-3700 today. Our Media and West Chester, Pennsylvania offices serve clients in Delaware County, Chester County, and Montgomery County.