Family Law Watch: The Case For Privacy In Divorce
Individuals need not be celebrities to want privacy in divorce. Unfortunately, maintaining privacy in a divorce is becoming increasingly difficult due to the increased use of social media. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are just a few social media tools used for personal expression and communication to family, friends and followers.
Fortunately, there are steps individuals can take to limit public scrutiny over their divorce.
1. Limit Social Media: Limiting social media is an easy way for individuals to create a wall of privacy surrounding divorce. Pictures and comments posted on social media sites are subject to interpretation and criticism by family, friends and followers, over which an individual has little control. While it may feel liberating for individuals to express their feelings to a captive audience, this could prove detrimental because electronically stored information is discoverable. And an electronic trail is always left behind each public post and could be used against an individual in his or her case.
2. Hire a Mediator or Private Judge: Couples can hire a private mediator to help mediate a settlement and/or they can hire a private judge to adjudicate unresolved issues in the divorce. While this option may be costly, it keeps the details of a divorce proceeding out of an open, public courtroom.
3. Consider a Confidential Settlement Agreement: Individuals concerned about public access to the details of their divorce should discuss with their attorneys the possibility of having a confidential settlement agreement. Agreements reached between spouses are memorialized in a written agreement, which normally is filed with the court. But, if the parties decide not to file the agreement, it will not be available for public viewing. Many celebrities opt for confidential settlements. For example, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, a celebrity couple, chose this alternative for their divorce in 2012.
For individuals who value privacy, the above options are definitely worth considering and should be discussed with an attorney at the start of the dissolution.