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Is there a way to keep complex divorce matters private?

The idea that what happens in court is a matter of public record is something Texas law takes quite seriously. Under the rules of civil procedure, provision 76a specifically addresses how any documents provided in the course of discovery in a case, including those involving divorce, are presumed "open to the general public."

Attorneys experienced in the area of family law appreciate that this rule can create publicity that divorcing couples might prefer to avoid, especially in cases involving extensive and complex assets. Fortunately, the rule includes some exceptions under which the court can order information sealed. Whether an exception can be pursued is something to discuss with your attorney. If a decision is made to proceed, the steps required demand a high level of due diligence.

Can the case be made?

Most would agree that openness and transparency in legal matters is generally a good thing, but divorce is a very personal matter and typically has little impact on the public at large. So it is that the rules allow individuals to ask to have material sealed.

However, approval requires making a clear case that the privacy interests of the individuals outweigh any "probable adverse effect" a seal might have on public health or safety. This might be easier to do when the issues in question deal with assets of a family-held company. The argument might be that disclosure of such information could hurt the business.

It's important to note that it is not possible to guarantee a request will be granted. Judges may apply the standards differently. Here, an attorney's skill comes into play.

What can be assured is that the courts will expect each step of a seal request to be followed carefully. Also, the courts will weigh arguments with an eye toward favoring the presumption of openness.

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Attorney Christine K. Lincoln

Christine K. Lincoln offers sound counsel and legal services to protect clients and their families facing divorce and other family disputes.

She will take the time to understand your individual needs and develop a comprehensive solution to protect your rights and interests.

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