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Can "normal" couples have their divorce records sealed?

Many Texas residents are aware of the high profile divorce between southern Governor Robert Bentley and his wife of 50 years. The case has become a news item not for scandalous details contained within the filing, but for the fact that the records have been sealed under a judge's order. While several news outlets are fighting that decision, many spouses across the nation are wondering if they could receive similar treatment within their own divorce case.

Governor and Mrs. Bentley asked that their divorce records be kept from public view due to the fact that the details contained within are of a private nature. They went on to state that because of the Governor's position within public office, it is in the best interests of both spouses that the records be sealed.  The judge agreed, and as of the time of this report, only the parties, their legal counsel, the judge and officers of the court can view their divorce records.

Many spouses are unaware that they, too, can ask that their divorce records be sealed. In making such a request of the court, there are generally two types of arguments. One, the one the Bentleys used, is that the details of the divorce are completely private in nature and should be shielded from public view. The other is that the details of a divorce contain matters that are confidential or of serious threat to the public's safety. Such arguments may include a claim that the divorce file includes trade secrets, or information that could threaten public safety.

For anyone in Texas who would like to request that their divorce records be sealed, the first step lies in discussing the issue with a divorce attorney. He or she can review the details of the case and advise if it is appropriate to ask that the records be sealed. This is an avenue that is available to all spouses, regardless of their level of wealth or fame. Most people are simply unaware that it is even an option, which is why the courts hear so few of these requests.

Source: al.com, "Can you get your divorce records sealed like Gov. Bentley?", Leada Gore, Sept. 10, 2015

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