What’s the best method to maintain privacy in a divorce?
Divorce clients often express concern that the details of their divorce may become public. Understandably, most couples want their divorces to be kept as private as possible. But how can we accomplish this when our Texas Constitution mandates open courts – and a divorce is a lawsuit that must be filed in court?
Collaborative Divorce allows clients to avoid the risk of public exposure by closing the curtain on the process. Divorce deals with a family’s private business: children, finances, and intimate relationships. Very few people want their friends, neighbors, and total strangers to be privy to this kind of personal information.
How can divorce documents be shielded from the public eye?
We have methods for keeping your divorce documents private. In many counties, a divorce case can be filed under initials only. And once the case is resolved, we can often seal the file so that only the parties and their lawyers can gain access to the court documents.
Are there other ways that a divorce can be kept private?
We can keep divorcing parties out of the courtroom with the Collaborative Divorce process. The attorneys and neutral advisors meet with the divorcing couple in a private office or on Zoom. Contrast that to the horror of taking the witness stand in a courtroom packed with spectators – or having a Zoom divorce trial broadcast on YouTube (yes, this really happens because of our state’s “open courts” policy). At the very outset of a Collaborative Divorce, each client and professional participant signs a contract agreeing to keep the facts confidential, and the court is immediately notified that the Collaborative process has been elected. Judges will not require a hearing or a trial once you’re safely in the Collaborative process.
In addition to confidentiality, the Collaborative process also fosters creative solutions for really sticky personal problems. For example, an addict or an alcoholic may feel shamed or punished in court. But a Collaborative team can make sure that children are protected, while still providing help and support for a party who’s suffering from addiction or mental illness. It’s easy to see that the whole family benefits from this approach.
What is the first step for someone seeking privacy in their divorce?
If you are seeking a private and dignified divorce process, you should retain an attorney who really hears your concerns and who understands why privacy is important to you and to your family. Look for a divorce lawyer who has the Collaborative training, credentialing, and experience necessary to keep your personal business out of the public eye.
For more information about how to achieve privacy in the Collaborative Divorce process, please contact Esther Donald at 214-373-7676.
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