Is Your San Diego Divorce or Legal Separation Private in 2011?

In San Diego, many persons who get divorced think that their information is private and protected by law. In San Diego divorce and legal separation court, in actuality, much of the information becomes public record. If you are involved in a legal separation or divorce in San Diego, it is important to understand what information is private and what is not. It is very difficult, in 2011, in San Diego Superior Court for a divorce or legal separation, to have the file “sealed” due to 1st Amendment rights and the right of the press.

It is very important to understand that all pleadings filed with the San Diego Superior Court in a legal separation or divorce is public record. It is important not to file pleadings with your social security number on them. If you do file pleadings with your social security number, you can file a motion and ask for this information to be “redacted” to try and avoid identity theft. In addition, if you have children, remember that children {once they are an adult} can view the divorce or legal separation file. There is a process in San Diego which is the Notice of Lodgment. It may be better to lodge the documents with the Court directly rather than file and then ask for the Notice of Lodgment and accompanying documents back after the hearing rather than filing so that this does not become public record.

What documents are public record? All documents filed with the Court unless sealed. In San Diego, for example, the Family Court Services Report may be sealed as well as any Child Protective Services Report[s] and some other documents. Petitions, Summons, Responses, Order to Show Cause Motions, Income and Expense Declarations and Marriage Settlement Agreements are all public record. In San Diego, pursuant to the local rules, an Income and Expense Declaration must have the last two paystubs if employed or two years profit and loss with tax returns if self employed. Often, these documents are very private since they disclose your income and your employer as well as {for example with a tax return} a significant amount of other financial information. Your marriage settlement agreement will contain other very sensitive information in the division of your assets and debts. In addition, allegations of infidelity, child abuse, child neglect, child molest, debts, drug use, alcohol use and many others are commonly placed in pleadings and then filed with the Court. It is not uncommon for a person who is contemplating marriage to look at the divorce file[s] of their fiancee to determine what happened in their past divorce.

If you have any questions about legal separation or divorce in San Diego, please feel free to contact us for a complimentary and confidential consultation.

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