Snooping During Divorce

Not all celebrity divorces are played out in public via dueling tweets, interviews and Instagram posts. Although Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt's break-up made world-wide headlines, the famous couple has worked to keep the details as private as possible. They've even hired a private judge.

Why Take Steps to Protect Your Privacy During Divorce?

A couple doesn't have to be so well-known that they're referred to by a single name (Brangelina) to want their divorce kept private. If a couple or one spouse is a powerful, respected and/or well-known in the community, for example, they may not want the local press or others to be able to find and publicize all the financial and potentially embarrassing personal details of their split.

A couple may be concerned for their children's privacy, and not want information about them to become public. They may also not want to risk having their children become aware of aspects of the break-up they worked to keep from them.

How Can You Keep Your Divorce Private?

The options for keeping divorce documents private vary by jurisdiction. However, there are things that divorcing spouses, with the help of their attorneys, can do to try to protect their privacy.

Couples can request to have their court documents sealed. If that's not possible, they may use initials rather than their names on those documents.

If a couple can work together well enough to opt for a collaborative or mediated divorce, that will keep the proceedings out of court and help ensure privacy. As we've noted here before, these types of divorces are usually lower-conflict and lower-cost than litigated ones.

Is a Private Judge for You?

You don't have to have Brangelina money to hire a private judge, but they aren't cheap. Depending on the state, they can run anywhere from a few hundred dollars an hour to more than $1,000.

Private judges can speed up the process, particularly in states like California, where just getting in front of a judge can take several months, during which time, your conflicts may worsen and ultimately cost you more. With a private judge, the divorce details don't become part of a court record.

Even if there's no danger that TMZ will want to splash your divorce documents across its website, you have the right to try to keep people from being able to see them. Talk to your family law attorney about your concerns and what your options are before any documents are filed.