When people get divorced, the last thing they want is to feel that their lives are an open book to the public. High profile professionals who wish to shield their family and personal issues from the public may be motivated to keep the divorce confidential. Many divorces in New York have public records, which means that others may be able to gain information that you likely do not want them to have.
Records of divorce proceedings remain public unless a judge agrees to seal them. To protect divorce documents from being open to the public, you will need to file a motion with the court and provide an affidavit that explains how you or family members would suffer if the records were open to public scrutiny. Courts are often hesitant to seal entire cases. Sometimes judges decide on narrowly tailored seals that do not privatize more than the judge deems necessary.
How you can avoid divorce litigation
To avoid the public eye, many high profile professionals choose to resolve their divorce through an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) method to facilitate a voluntary settlement, rather than one ordered by the court. ADR methods can save time and money and often result in a less adversarial experience between spouses.
Two types of ADR
Mediation involves you and your spouse working with a neutral professional to agree on all aspects of the divorce. Mediators are independent third parties who encourage communication, understanding and creative problem solving to facilitate an out-of-court agreement. Divorcing couples should seek a mediator who is professionally trained and experienced in resolving complex divorce matters.
Collaborative divorce is like mediation but involves you and your spouse working together with your respective divorce attorneys. Attorneys and clients meet separately and then the parties meet collectively to discuss terms of the divorce. At the start of the process, lawyers and clients sign an agreement requiring both attorneys to withdraw from the case if there is not a settlement, or if there is a threat of litigation.
An additional privacy safeguard is a confidentiality agreement. This legal agreement keeps details such as finances, alimony and child support payments, and financial assets sealed from public record.
If you are a high-profile professional facing divorce, it is important to know that your private and confidential information does not need to be a part of public discourse. Consider talking to an experienced divorce attorney who can help you take steps to preserve your privacy throughout the divorce process.