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Are Divorce Records Public in Connecticut?

Photo of Meghan Freed, Connecticut Divorce AttorneyFor many people, privacy — for themself, their spouse, and their children — is a priority during and following a divorce.  It’s normal to wonder whether divorce is a matter of public record in Connecticut.

The short answer is yes, divorce filings are public record.  But that’s not the whole story.  There are ways to keep your divorce much more private.

Read on to learn more about

  • What divorce records are publicly available.
  • Whether you can have other divorce records “sealed.”
  • What divorce information is available online.
  • How easy it is for the public to access divorce court documents.
  • How to access transcripts of hearings and trials.
  • How you can keep the details of your divorce more private.

What Divorce Records are Accessible to the Public in Connecticut?

Under Connecticut Practice Book Section 25-59A (h), Financial Affidavits — the sworn statements of current income, expenses, assets and liabilities filed with the court — are automatically “sealed,” which means they are unavailable to the public.

Other documents filed with the Court are pretty much made available to the public in order to help ensure transparency in court proceedings.

Can You Have Other Divorce Records Sealed?

Experienced divorce attorneys are familiar with how to request the Court order that divorce records be sealed.  This involves convincing the Court that the reason to keep the documents private outweighs the public’s First Amendment right to free access to these documents.

Some of the reasons that a Court may agree to order divorce records sealed include:

  • The records contain sensitive information regarding children. Those under 18 have a right to avoid being identified in divorce records. In some cases, records may be partially sealed.
  • To protect victims of abuse and domestic violence.
  • To protect sensitive proprietary business details.
  • To protect banking and other private information.
  • To prevent malicious, false information from becoming public knowledge.

Is Information About Divorces Available Online to the Public?

If a divorce happened in the past 10 years, some information about it can be located online here.

The public can see some general information online about the docket, such as who the parties are, who their lawyers are, the docket number assigned to the case, and what was filed in the case.  The details of those filings are not available to the general public online.  For example, if there was a motion filed or settlement agreement entered as an order of the court, you can see that the motion or agreement was filed, who filed it, and when it was filed.  However, you cannot see the contents, terms, or details of the motion or agreement itself online.

How Easy is it for the Public to Access Divorce Documents?

If you are looking for something that isn’t available online — such as a copy of a document filed in a divorce case — you generally need to head to the Judicial District Clerk’s Office in the court location where the divorce took place.  (Click for the current fees for copying.)

What About Access to Transcripts of Divorce Hearings and Trials?

Requests for written transcripts of any court proceeding must be made in writing to the Court Reporter’s Office at the court location where the case was heard. Currently, orders aren’t accepted via email.  To learn what to include in the letter and other information about ordering transcripts, view “Procedures for Ordering a Court Transcript.”

If you would prefer to keep the details of your hearing more private, you will want to explore options to avoid hearings in your divorce.  Not only are transcripts of hearings typically publicly available, but the hearings themselves are also typically open to the public.  Check out our article “How Do I Protect My Privacy During a Divorce” for more information.

Next Steps

At Freed Marcroft, we want you to understand what is happening in your divorce — including what information will be publicly available.  Depending on your goals, skilled divorce counsel can develop a legal strategy keyed into maintaining your privacy.  Check out our article “How Do I Protect My Privacy During a Divorce?” for more on how we can help.

Our first step at Freed Marcroft, the Goals & Planning Conference, is designed to get to the heart of your problem and unveil your true goals for your life. Once we discover your goals at the Goals and Planning Conference, we are able to take our collective experience with divorce, law, the available ways to divorce, strategy, courts, judges, and other lawyers, and build a divorce customized for you.

Schedule your Goals & Planning Conference today, or contact us either here or by phone at 860-560-8160.

 

Written by Meghan Freed