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Are Divorce Records Confidential?

Posted on in Complex Divorce

Texas divorce attorney, Texas complex litigation lawyerThe records of most civil cases in Texas are available to the public. However, it is possible for parties who are going through a divorce to have certain information kept private. To learn more about your confidentiality rights, please contact an experienced complex divorce attorney who is familiar with the court procedures required to keep your personal information safe.

Restricted Documents

Although most divorce records are available to the public, some divorce-related documents can be marked as restricted if they contain sensitive data, such as:

  • Birth dates;
  • Social Security Numbers;
  • Driver’s license numbers; and
  • Other personal information.

If a document contains this kind of information, the party must include a notation at the top of the pleading stating that the records contain sensitive data. Although this does not mean that a record will be sealed, it will help keep it from being posted online.

Confidential Records

It is possible to request that a court allows a petitioner to seal certain records, although it requires the submission of a written motion. The petitioner must also demonstrate that a specific, serious, and substantial interest clearly outweighs:

  • The state’s presumption of openness; and
  • Any probable adverse effect that sealing the record would have upon the health or safety of the general public.

The petitioner is also usually required to demonstrate that sealing the records is the least restrictive means of protecting the asserted interest. Although this may seem like a difficult burden to meet, Texas courts have repeatedly asserted that cases involving family law-related matters have a lower burden of proof when it comes to requests for confidentiality.

Protective Orders

In cases involving domestic violence, courts often render protective orders, which prohibit the restricted party from taking certain actions. Parties who have received a protective order from the court can request that certain information be kept confidential, including the telephone number of:

  • A person protected by the order;
  • The place of employment of a protected party; or
  • The child-care facility or school of a child protected by an order.

If granted, the court clerk will strike the information from the public records, although it will maintain a confidential record for the court’s own use.

Contact a Complex Divorce Attorney

In order to ensure that courts are operating honestly and legally, Texas law requires that almost all records related to civil cases be made accessible to the public. However, there are exceptions to this rule when family law matters are involved, so if you are contemplating a divorce and have concerns about your safety, please contact one of the experienced Leander complex divorce attorneys at the Law Offices of William D. Powers today. We are eager to address your divorce-related questions and concerns.

 

Sources:

https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=11456594192434920052&q=In+Re+Bain,+144+S.W.3d+236&hl=en&as_sdt=2006

http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/FA/htm/FA.85.htm

The Law Offices of William D. Powers

8911 N. Capital of Texas Highway, Building 2, Suite 2105, Austin, TX 78759