Divorce proceedings involve discussion of your life’s most intimate details. If you end up in court, this all becomes part of the public record. Because of these rules you may be wondering how to protect yourself.

Tennessee Open-Record Laws

According to Tennessee divorce law, most court records must be available to the public. Going through a contested divorce that requires courtroom litigation requires all documentation to be filed. Once filed, these documents are open to the public. Because a lot of private information surfaces during divorce hearings you run the risk of having it negatively affect your life. For example, your employer could discover something that could damage your career. If this all sounds disturbing, you have a couple of options to protect your privacy.

Protect Your Privacy with Mediation

A couple who both agree to end their marriage may find a solution through mediation. In this case you do not meet in court. Discussions during mediation do not result in recorded testimony, meaning your divorce’s messy details do not end up in any documentation. Records required to finalize a mediated divorce only contain the agreed-upon outcome and no details of what transpired between parties during the process. And as a result you maintain more privacy.

Protecting your privacy is one of many reasons to work it out with your spouse during mediation, but there are others. One big reason is a requirement by Tennessee law to attempt mediation first, if no children are involved. Working it out in this first step saves time, heartache, and money. (Learn more about mediation here.)

Sealing Divorce Documents to Protect Privacy

If mediation doesn’t work and you end up in divorce court, you run into more challenges to protecting your privacy with few solutions. A judge seals divorce papers under some circumstances. If records aren’t sealed any documents filed with a Tennessee court clerk are available to the public. Situations possibly calling for a judge’s seal can be as follows:

  • Records concerning abuse or other sensitive topics involving minors
  • Details concerning domestic violence
  • Company records: financial or other private data
  • Information that might open the door to identity theft, like a Social Security number
  • Details about addiction or mental illness
  • Potentially libelous claims

You can find the provisions specific to documents filed under seal in the state of Tennessee here

How Easy Can the Public Attain Divorce Records?

Although technically unsealed divorce records are public, in Tennessee divorces granted after 1970 enjoy some level of protection. To obtain those records from the Tennessee Vital Records Office an individual must submit a request in person or by mail for a fee. However, you must present a legitimate or direct claim to see them and provide all relevant information. This information includes:

  • The names of both spouses
  • A 5-year range or actual date the divorce was granted
  • Plus, knowing the county where the divorce happened is useful.

Knoxville Divorce Attorneys Here to Help

The attorneys of McKeehan Law Group in Knoxville have the experience to assist in your divorce proceedings. Contact us today for a free consultation.