For the majority of people, information such as the names of the parties, their addresses, or sometimes inflammatory allegations of abuse or adultery will rarely be seen by anyone but the parties, the lawyers, and the judge.
But, with the recent stories, such like that of LivingSocial who had 50 million of their users’ email addresses, passwords, and dates of birth compromised, it is only natural that people would be similarly concerned about how much information is available to the public in their court file. After all, before determining how much child support should be paid or how to divide marital assets, the Court must make a finding as to the extent of a person’s income and personal property. This financial data becomes a permanent record in the court file for anyone to view.
Nonetheless, certain steps can be taken to minimize the risk of exposing too many unnecessary details. Parties and their attorneys can work together to ensure that all pleadings do not contain the full names of minor children, exact birthdates and social security numbers. Additionally, the parties may exercise good judgment when deciding how to resolve the myriad of issues that arise during a domestic proceeding. If the parties are able to work amicably, they may be able to achieve their desired goal without the unintended consequence of public disclosure of sensitive information.
Sometimes there is no alternative to making serious and uncomfortable allegations in a Court pleading. When sensitive information does not need to be made public, however, all parties should take the disciplined steps to avoid unnecessarily exposing personal information.