WE HELP FAMILIES RESOLVE CONFLICT PEACEFULLY


Friday, January 14, 2011

Will My Court File be Made Available to the Public?

Many of our clients or potential clients are concerned about whether their court records will be made available to the public. In most instances court records are available to the public, with some limited exceptions. This includes the contents of case files, pleadings and motions. In family law (divorce, paternity, guardianship) cases some materials are not public, such as findings of non-paternity in a paternity suit. In addition you can request that certain information be impounded such as an individual's address (impounded by the judge "upon good cause shown" -- which may be harder to show than one might imagine). Additionally, family law case files automatically impound some materials, such as financial statements, child support guideline worksheets, and reports of a guardian ad litem, probation officer or court clinic.

Practically speaking, the availability of the public portions of your case file does not necessarily mean that any member of the public will actually see what is inside. It simply means that if anyone specifically wanted to see it, and was motivated enough to find and travel to the right courthouse, they could see it. Although this may happen, it rarely does.

For more information on the availability of court files, I suggest reading "A Guide to Public Access, Sealing & Expungement of District Court Records."

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