No Right to Privacy in a Pennsylvania DivorceMarch 11, 2014
Privacy is Not a Right When it Comes to a Divorce in Pennsylvania
Oftentimes individuals who are contemplating divorce anticipate that the process can be kept confidential. Some assume that all records will automatically be sealed from the public eye. Others believe that even if the sealing of records, certainly they will be sealed if the request is made to the Court. Quite the opposite is true in most cases.
Records Not Automatically Sealed
In most Pennsylvania Courts (and for that matter in many Courts throughout the United States,) the Courts will not take it upon themselves to seal divorce or custody records. The public has a right to know what happens in the judicial process, and the United States Supreme Court has guaranteed public access at least to the Federal Courts. As a result of this right to know, the Courts are reluctant, even in private matters such as divorce and custody, to seal records from the public eye.
This does not mean that records cannot be sealed, but the Court will consider these cases on an individual basis, and determine whether the facts of the case are such that the need for a party’s privacy outweighs the public’s right to know.
Demonstrate Potential Damage
Someone asking that a divorce record or a custody record be sealed, must demonstrate that the damage that will be suffered outweighs our long tradition of open court records.
In recent years, statutes have been adopted to permit the redaction of sensitive information from court records such as social security numbers or bank account numbers. But the common law with regard to other facts have not changed. A specific request must be made to the Court explaining why a record should not be public, and detailing the harm that will occur if the public is afforded access to all information in the court records. And the more narrow the request, the more likelihood of success. The Court will be more likely to grant a request that is limited to the sealing of corporate records, or information limited to the parties’ children than to grant a blanket request to seal the entire divorce record.
Wondering about your Privacy During a Divorce?
If you are seeking a divorce in Harrisburg, Lemoyne or Carlisle, and are need help to keep your information as private as possible during the proceedings, please contact the family law attorneys of Daley, Zucker, Meilton & Miner for assistance. Our number is (717) 724-9821.