Should Divorce Records Be Public or Private?

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5 Responses

  1. David Kasper says:

    I would have to agree that Politician’s Divorce Records should be public. It is unfortunate the media makes them into out of control side shows, but I believe my elected officials should be a pro-family person. Divorce is not pro-family, most of the time it is pro-self.

    I understand your position though. In a perfect world, where politicians are not corrupt, I would agree with your position.

  2. Rob Hyndman says:

    “If you’re putting your character on the line for voters to see, maybe there should be no secrets”.

    I don’t see this as being helpful.

    1. Who’s to say whether any particular divorce has anything to do with character?

    2. Who’s to say whether any particular politician’s election has anything to do with whatever it is about character that emerges in a divorce?

    3. Who’s to say whether any particular allegation has anything to do with the truth?

    4. Why should politicians uniquely (or anyone, for that matter) be subject to the extortionate allegations that can be threatened in the course of a divorce? Why would we make allegations made by the one class of persons we know to be single-mindedly set upon personal destruction – spouses in the course of a breakdown of their relationship – fodder for anyone else’s consumption? This ain’t about entertainment folks. Given that backdrop, shouldn’t it be up to those with an appetite for this to present a compelling reason for the disclosure?

    And etc. virtually ad infinitum.

  3. Focusing only on politicians and celbrities begs the fundamental question–whether divorce records should ordinarily be open to the public.

    In my state, they are. And that’s potentially a huge problem for common folk. Sooner rather than later anyone who wants to peek will be able to do so through an electronic filing portal like Pacer.

    By rule even in non-contested matters, the parties are required to file financial, income and expenses statements and many trial courts will not agree to confidentiality orders. It’s an indentity theft’s dream. And a business competitor’s dream too.

    I understand in California the problem has been addressed in part by allowing couples to rent a judge. Needless to say, that’s not an option open to most.

    The general public has no dog in the hunt in the ordinary divorce proceeding and no legitimate need to know. So the general rule as Professor Solove suggests should be a presumption against disclosure.

  4. KipEsquire says:

    In New York, divorces are still in the form of civil lawsuits filed in the court of general jurisdiction (Supreme Court), not Family Court. The public, in my opinion, always has a right to attend, or obtain records from, plain vanilla civil and criminal courts.

    So I suppose the first step to your point of view would be to remove divorce proceedings from ordinary civil courts and remand them to Family Court, where proceedings are confidential, rather than to carve out an exception in Supreme Court.

    As for your point of view generally, I concur with Schiller. You want to live a private life? Fine, then stay a private citizen.

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