Gone are the days when divorcing spouses had to publicly drag each other through the mud, revealing personal details about things like infidelity and abandonment to try to prove fault and get a divorce. While this is undoubtedly a change for the better, divorces in Illinois are still not completely private. Certain divorce details are part of the public record, yet spouses, especially those with public profiles, may have good reasons for wanting to keep them private. If you are hoping to keep your Illinois divorce details as private as possible, read on.
What Details Are Always Private?
Certain personal details are never part of the public record. Social security numbers, driver’s licenses, bank accounts, and other such details cannot be revealed in their entirety in public divorce records. Details of this nature can compromise your identity and you do not have to worry about these being public. But your divorce record, and even the process of discovery, can reveal a lot about your personal and family finances that you may want to keep private.
Request Protective Orders During Discovery
During the discovery phase, spouses and their attorneys are passing highly detailed information to each other, including things like full account numbers, business secrets, asset assessments, and more. One spouse may justifiably fear that their partner will be careless with these details, or - worse - deliberately share the information with third parties. Because divorcing spouses are often not on their best behavior, you may want to request a protective order from the court that prohibits sharing certain information during the discovery process.
Ask a Court to Seal Your Records
Illinois law presumes that the general public has a stronger interest in being able to access divorce records than the average divorcee has an interest in keeping them private. Therefore, if you want certain embarrassing or personal details to be left out of the public record, you will need to request that the judge seal all or part of a file. Judges will typically not seal a file unless there is a good reason, and it is more common only for parts of a divorce record to be sealed.
Refer to Certain Agreements by Reference Only
Once spouses reach an agreement about parenting arrangements and property distribution, they can refer to these agreements in the final prove-up by reference only, rather than including the agreements themselves in the public record. Spouses who do this may run the risk of record-keeping issues, so if they need to modify their parenting agreement in the future, they should preserve these files carefully to ensure they have the full text of the agreement available to them....