Divorce Litigation: Personal Information on Public Display

Connecticut, like most states, is a “no-fault” jurisdiction when it comes to divorce.  Nevertheless, divorce proceedings in this state are no less likely to feature personally identifiable and potentially harmful information concerning the litigants.  Absent court orders which are rarely obtained, the majority of this information — which could include financial documents, hearing transcripts with sworn testimony from spouses and other witnesses, and motions containing allegations of wrongdoing, both in and out of the household — remains a matter of public record.  This essentially means that any person might view and obtain copies of the material by paying a visit to the office of the appropriate court clerk.

Often, it is the specter of this “public” availability of documents that might induce a husband or wife to settle a case – in private, and between lawyers – rather than by proceeding with a full-blown evidentiary hearing or trial.  A recent Wall Street Journal article (see link below) touches on the public’s right to the information (especially as related to well-known public figures) which is countered by those who decry the publication of such details as appealing to prurient interests only.

Whether one believes that personal information in divorce actions should be safeguarded – or whether, as in any other case, the material should remain available for public inspection – it is our responsibility as attorneys to counsel our clients accordingly.  In each of our divorce matters, we expressly advise our clients concerning the risks of litigation (including the resulting exposure of personal information), as well as the potentially positive effect that the same might have on a soon-to-be ex-spouse.

Dirty Laundry Aired: The Fight Over Revealing Divorce Details, Dionne Searcey, Wall Street Journal, May 28, 2009: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124346788310360439.html
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Our firm in Westport serves clients with divorce, matrimonial, and family law issues from all over the state including the towns of: Bethel, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Danbury, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Monroe, New Canaan, New Fairfield, Newton, Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield, Shelton, Sherman, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport, and Wilton.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to an attorney about a divorce or familial matter, please don’t hesitate to call our office at (203) 221-3100 for a free consultation. Divorce is difficult, education is power. Call today.