The stakes are always high in a divorce, but the process can become more contentious and overwhelming if the spouses are in the public eye. Public figures or people with a high net worth may have individuals, newspapers, and bloggers interested in publicizing the details of the divorce, including private information about their income and children. In this day and age, the end of someone’s marriage can sell more newspapers or increase blog traffic. If you are worried about the public knowing about your marriage and divorce, there are strategies to keep the dissolution of your marriage private. For more information on maintaining privacy during a divorce, contact the experienced Naperville divorce attorneys of Fay, Farrow & Associates at 630-961-0060.
Open to the Public
Divorce proceedings are generally public records because of Illinois common law and the First Amendment. On these bases, Illinois created 705 ILCS 105/16, which states all records kept by the clerks of the circuit courts are deemed public records and can be inspected without fee by all persons. If you do nothing to protect yourself during a divorce, the complaint, motions, and discovery documents filed with the court will be available for anyone who requests to see the case file. However, certain personal and financial information like bank account and Social Security numbers are not public.
Based on Irreconcilable Differences
Illinois has helped everyone keep their divorces more private now that they can file based on irreconcilable differences. Illinois used to allow people to file for divorce based on fault. This type of complaint would have included more personal details about the parties and what went wrong in the marriage. Now, if you and your spouse live apart continuously for 6 months, there is a presumption of irreconcilable differences. You do not have to plead facts that would be embarrassing if they were made public.
File Records Under Seal
Any party of a divorce can ask the court to file all or some of the divorce documents under seal. Sealed records are not available to the public. The judge has discretion in granting this request, so your attorney needs a strong argument as to why this is necessary. Your reason for filing records under seal must outweigh the presumption that records are available to the public. In many cases, a narrow request to seal certain records is more likely to be approved than a broad request. For example, you might not ask for all documents to be sealed, but you might ask for discovery documents that discuss you finances to be made private.
Incorporate Your Settlement by Reference
Many people settle their divorce and the related issues by themselves with their attorney’s help. The spouses decide the property division, parenting time and responsibilities, child support, and spousal maintenance. This settlement can be kept out of the final divorce decree if it is incorporated into the order by reference. This means your divorce order will state the terms of the relevant issues are in a separate document. Your lawyer will need to request this to keep the settlement private and out of the public record.
Call a DuPage County Divorce Attorney Today
People want to keep their divorces private for a number of reasons. It may be prying family members or members of the press. Whatever the reasons, the attorneys at Fay, Farrow & Associates understand the importance of privacy during this difficult time and will use whatever strategies they can under the law to keep necessary divorce documents out of the public eye.