Heymann & Fletcher

Sealed records not just for high asset divorce cases

Few New Jersey residents will have been able to avoid media coverage of the split between actors Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. As one of the world's most famous couples, the pair has been subjected to intense scrutiny after the announcement that they were moving toward divorce. What many people fail to recognize is that many of the divorce tactics used by the rich and famous are also available to the rest of the population, regardless of whether they will have a high asset divorce.

An example lies in having one's divorce records sealed. Pitt and Jolie have agreed to have their records sealed from public view. That will keep the majority of details surrounding their divorce out of the public realm. For those who do not share this couple's level of fame or wealth, there remain a number of reasons why sealing divorce records is a wise move.

One issue involves the risk of being subjected to identity theft. Divorce records contain a great deal of financial information, and that information is available to anyone who is willing and able to go down to the courthouse and peruse the files. Having one's full financial standing displayed for the world to see is unsettling for many. Another reason to have divorce records sealed is to protect one's children from accessing information that could be harmful. Divorce records sometimes contain deeply personal information, especially when infidelity has played a role in the end of the marriage.

The process to have divorce records sealed differs from one state to the next. The best way to move forward with such a request is to work with a family law attorney who is familiar with the rules and procedures in New Jersey. He or she will be able to advise clients on how to structure a clear and compelling argument as to why the courts should take action to seal the records for a particular divorce case.

Source: CNBC, "How to divorce like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie", Jessica Dickler, Jan. 11, 2017

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