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Are family law cases public record in California?

On Behalf of | Mar 4, 2024 | Family Law

A divorce, with all that entails, can be painful enough without all your personal information becoming public. Unfortunately, family legal cases – including divorce records and custody battles – are public information under California law. 

So, what can you do to protect your privacy during this difficult time? Here are some suggestions: 

Use a confidentiality agreement 

Confidentiality agreements are contracts that people can make that are designed to keep sensitive information under wraps. A confidentiality agreement could put limits on what the parties in a family law case can post online, tell their friends or otherwise make public. 

Aim for an out-of-court agreement

Not every family legal case has to be settled inside a courtroom. In fact, the courts generally prefer it when the parties to a divorce or custody battle work things out for themselves without judicial interference. This may mean sitting down at the negotiation table with the other party more than you might like, but it can be worth the effort if you can hammer out an agreement. Only the final agreement would need to be submitted to the court for approval.

Get a private judge

Private judges have become very popular with celebrities, athletes and professionals who want to keep their family business out of the headlines. If you have to take your issue to court because there is no way to get to a negotiated agreement, a private judge holds the same authority as any other judge – but the proceedings are not open to the public. 

If you’re concerned about your family’s privacy because of a family law issue, make sure you discuss your fears when you seek legal guidance. That way, you can explore all of the possible ways to mitigate the public exposure.