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Sealing records within a Florida divorce

In recent months, a number of celebrities and other high profile couples have taken steps to have their divorce records sealed from public view. This means that the media has had no access to those records, which has kept details of the high profile divorce case out of the news. While not everyone in Florida has a public persona to protect, many spouses would like to have their own divorce kept out of the public record, and wonder if that is an option available to non-celebrity couples.

It is a little-known fact that any family court judge can take action to seal a couple's divorce file. However, in order to attain that goal, the parties need to present a well-reasoned legal argument as to why their records should be sealed. For those who would like to take such an approach, it is important to understand the most commonly used arguments.

In the case of Governor Robert Bentley and his wife of 50 years, which has made headlines in recent weeks, the couple asked the court to seal their divorce record due to the fact that the details contained within were of an absolutely private nature. Because of the Governor's position as an elected official, they went on to say, it was in their best interests to have their divorce records kept from public view. The judge agreed, and those records are now sealed.

Another approach that has been successful is to assert that the details within one's divorce case contain trade secrets or could lead to a threat against national security. This argument will obviously not apply to the vast majority of divorce cases. However, an argument based on the private nature of divorce details is relevant in virtually every case.

For those in Florida who would like to learn more about the option of having their records sealed from public view, it is important to sit down with a family law attorney and discuss the process of making such a request. From that point, it is possible to structure a petition to present in court. While having divorce records sealed is a relatively rare occurrence, that may be largely due to the fact that most couples are unaware that doing so is an option.

Source: al.com, "Can you get your divorce records sealed like Gov. Bentley?", Leada Gore, Sept. 10, 2015

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