Texas Divorce Case Records - Public or Private? - Bineham & Gillen

divorcePublic Access To Your Divorce Case Records

August 15, 2023by James Gillen

Divorces are stressful, and with so many steps involved, it can be confusing what is accessible to the public and what’s kept private. At Bineham & Gillen, we’re expert divorce lawyers in San Antonio. We have all the information you need to know about the process, the results and everything in between.

What Is A Divorce Certificate?

A divorce certificate, or divorce decree, serves as proof of the dissolution of a marriage or the termination of a marital union. It is issued after a divorce or annulment has been finalized. This document contains essential information such as:

  • The names of the former spouses
  • The date and location of the divorce
  • Child custody details, if applicable
  • Property division
  • Spousal support arrangements

A divorce decree is crucial for legal purposes, as it is proof of a legally dissolved marriage. This allows both parties to remarry in the future if they choose to do so.

Public vs. Private Records

In general, divorce proceedings are a matter of public interest, meaning certain information contained in your proceedings will be accessible to the general public. That said, there is some information that you can request stay “sealed.”

This means that highly sensitive or confidential information can only be viewed with a legal court order. To help you understand the difference, here is a breakdown of what qualifies for each, and what types of information within your divorce proceedings should be sealed.

Public Access For Divorce Records

All public records that are filed with a public court are considered for public access. In the context of divorce cases, certain aspects of the proceedings are typically considered public record, which means that anyone can access and review the information. These public records are usually maintained by the court clerk’s office or another government agency responsible for record-keeping.

Examples of information that may be part of the public record in a divorce case include the names of the parties involved, the date of the divorce filing, the divorce decree and any related court orders regarding child custody, child support, spousal support and property division. Some courts even offer online access to court records, making it easier for the public to obtain basic information about divorce cases.

Private Access For Divorce Records

A private record, on the other hand, is one that is not readily accessible to the general public. When considering divorce cases, certain sensitive information may be considered private and not available for public viewing. This typically includes information such as:

  • Social Security numbers
  • Financial account numbers
  • Addresses
  • Other personally identifiable information

While the general information about the divorce case is usually considered public record, certain documents or exhibits containing highly sensitive or confidential information may be sealed or restricted from public access. This is done to protect the privacy and security of the individuals involved, especially when the release of such information could pose a risk of harm or identity theft.

How To Get Divorce Records Sealed

There are steps to be taken if you think your case should be sealed. Restricting public access to the information contained in your case involves following the correct legal procedures and providing compelling reasons to the court. Below is a general outline of the process.

Consult With An Attorney

To initiate the process of sealing divorce records, it’s essential to seek legal advice from a family law attorney. Here at Bineham & Gillen, we can help you understand the laws and procedures in your jurisdiction and determine if your situation meets the criteria for sealing the records.

Determine Eligibility

In Texas, divorce records may be sealed in certain circumstances, such as when there is sensitive or private information that requires protection, or when there is a compelling reason to prevent public access. Common reasons for sealing divorce records include cases involving child abuse, domestic violence, financial fraud or cases where public disclosure could cause harm to one or both parties.

File A Motion

To get divorce records sealed, your attorney will file a motion with the court requesting the sealing of specific documents or the entire divorce case. The motion should clearly state the reasons why sealing the records is necessary and the specific documents or information to be restricted.

Serve Notice

In many jurisdictions, you will need to serve notice to the other party involved in the divorce case, informing them of the motion to seal the records and giving them an opportunity to respond or contest the motion.

Court Hearing

After filing the motion and serving notice, the court will schedule a hearing to consider the request to seal the records. At the hearing, both parties or their attorneys will have the opportunity to present their arguments for or against sealing the records.

Judge’s Decision

The judge will review the motion, the arguments presented at the hearing and any relevant evidence before making a decision. If the court grants the motion, the divorce records will be sealed and access to the restricted information will be limited.

Divorce Lawyer In San Antonio

If you need more information on the process of filing for divorce or getting your divorce records sealed, feel free to reach out to us at Bineham & Gillen.

We’re the area’s most trusted family law attorneys. We can help you with division of assets, child support payments, temporary restraining orders and more. We are here to answer questions and we are here to help. Talk to a lawyer about your case today.