Are Divorce Filings Public in Connecticut?
Most people do not want their divorce publicized like a Judge Judy show. Divorce is a sensitive type of legal matter in which both parties usually want to keep out of the public eye. It’s a private matter that can be embarrassing for many people. It’s natural to wonder if divorce is a matter of public record in Connecticut.
The short answer is: Yes, divorce filings are public record. In fact, if the divorce proceeding happened in the past 10 years, it can be located online.
A Closer Look at Divorce Records
The rules of the Connecticut Practice Book changed, they now presume that documents filed in family court hall be open to the public. This presumption includes divorce records in Connecticut. To obtain a divorce in Connecticut, you must file multiple, detailed documents with the court.
A Connecticut divorce record can contain information about your personal history, children’s needs, property, investments, relationship history, family history, financial history, insurance, medical history, employment history, education, public assistance needs, and agreements with your spouse.
When cases include sensitive, private information, divorce records can be sealed. Under Connecticut Practice Book Section 25-59A(c), you, your spouse, or the judge can move to seal your CT public divorce records. However, you should not depend on the judge to make that motion.
Also, an agreement between you and your spouse is not sufficient to seal your records. Your attorney will be able to help ensure your records are sealed when truly necessary if the court approves.
Here Are a Few Reasons Divorce Records Might Be Sealed:
- To protect sensitive information regarding children. Those under 18 have a right to avoid being identified in divorce records. In some cases, records may be partially sealed;
- To protect victims of abuse and domestic violence;
- To protect sensitive, proprietary business details;
- To protect banking and other private information; or
- To prevent malicious, false information from becoming public knowledge.
The court automatically seals sworn financial statements filed in your divorce. But a member of the public can petition to make this information public. If the public petitions to see your financial statements, it is your burden to prove that your financial statements should remain sealed.
An experienced Connecticut divorce attorney can meet this burden while you focus on guiding your family through the emotional work ahead.
What Is the Standard for Sealing a Connecticut Divorce Record?
To grant the sealing of all or part of a divorce record, the judge must conclude that sealing is necessary to preserve an interest that overrides the public’s interest in viewing the records. The public also has the right to object to sealing the record before the judge makes their decision.
Options for sealing divorce records include redaction, partial sealing, or full sealing. The court must be as minimalistic as possible when sealing your divorce records in CT.
They must balance the need to protect your overriding interests while preserving the public’s right to view the records as much as possible.
Connecticut Divorce Hearings Are Also Public
Connecticut also presumes that courtroom proceedings for divorces shall be open to the public. Generally, members of the public can observe your divorce proceedings and even request transcripts of the public proceedings. Discussing the intimate details of your family life and relationship can be painful in front of an audience of strangers. If what you have to say in court is particularly sensitive or you just do not feel comfortable having strangers present, you can close the courtroom to the public.
On your motion, your spouse’s motion, or the judge’s motion, the court can exclude the public from all or part of your divorce proceedings. Orders to exclude the public are normally based on many of the same reasons used to seal divorce records. Once again, members of the public have the right to object to an exclusion order. The judge must then narrowly tailor an exclusion order. Again, the order must balance protecting your overriding interests while preserving the public’s right to observe the proceedings.
Protecting Your Privacy
There are benefits to having Connecticut divorce records remain open to the public.
For one, it helps ensure transparency in court proceedings. The general public should be able to see what happens in public courts. They also deserve to see why and how the Court makes decisions. allows for trust in the system.
Although transparency and trust in the system are important, not all information should be available for the public eye. In order to ensure your privacy is maintained, your attorney will help you understand which information can be filed under seal, and how to go about the process.
Another option is ADR, Alternative Dispute Resolution. There are alternatives to going to court for coming to an agreement. Although the agreement may be public, all the tensions, disputes, and challenges can be kept private.
Contact a Connecticut Divorce Attorney Today For Help
Our attorneys at StangerLaw, LLC, have been fighting for clients for over 40 years. We understand that as change comes, your priority is the health and safety of your family. Our experienced family law attorneys are tireless advocates for your rights. We tailor our representation to your personal needs, and we use our legal expertise to amplify your voice in trying times.
We can answer any questions you may have about your Connecticut divorce record and available legal options.