Arons & Solomon | April 25, 2022 | Divorce
New Jersey favors open courts, a critical part of which is the existence of public court records. As a result, New Jersey divorce records are readily available to the public.
New Jersey does have procedures to protect some court records from public view. A judge will often recognize the need to keep some information in your divorce case from the public. However, you should not count on a judge keeping all of your divorce records secret.
Learn what the public can discover from divorce records in New Jersey and how you can seal some records from public view.
Divorce Records in New Jersey
New Jersey makes divorce records publicly available. Older cases are stored at the archives in Trenton. To get a divorce file, you only need to know which court handled the case. The court clerk can help you identify the file number and pull the records.
Although New Jersey allows no-fault divorces, your case will still involve some extremely personal details. This is particularly true if your spouse employs a scorched earth strategy and discloses embarrassing details of your life together.
Information that might come out in a divorce includes:
- Extramarital affairs and children born outside the marriage
- Financial difficulties
- Domestic violence
- Health and medical troubles, including sexual dysfunction
In many cases, these disclosures do not bear on your case. But they may come out, even if you object to their relevance.
This happens because courts in New Jersey use very broad tests to resolve issues within the divorce.
The court uses the “best interests of the child” test in all matters involving your children. When resolving child custody and visitation issues, the judge must consider all relevant information, including:
- Allegations of child abuse
- Criminal history
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Parental stability
- Physical and mental condition
Since almost everything bears on child custody, you and your spouse will disclose every detail about each other from before and during the marriage. All of this information can become public.
In awarding child support, the court must analyze the resources you and your spouse have and your children’s needs. You and your spouse will submit detailed financial information to the court, which could become public.
New Jersey uses an equitable distribution of property. This means a judge does not need to award an equal share of the couple’s property to each spouse. Instead, the judge can consider the fairness of the property division based on many factors.
These factors may result in the disclosure of the spouses’:
- Medical problems
- Debts and sources of income
- Financial contributions to the marriage
- The couple’s division of labor
- Property destroyed, wasted, or given away during the marriage
Again, these details will be disclosed in the public divorce records.
Sealing Divorce Records
New Jersey law allows you to petition a judge to seal a court record. While you could theoretically use this process to ask a judge to seal your entire file, a judge will probably not grant this request.
To seal a record, you must show good cause for the request. Some types of information that you might have good cause to seal include:
- Social Security numbers
- Financial account numbers
- Addresses of domestic violence or child abuse victims
- Medical records
Embarrassment will probably not persuade a judge to seal a record. Instead, you will need to show some greater harm like identity theft or potential violence.
You are most likely to get a judge to seal a record when you and your ex-spouse agree to seal it. On issues where you can agree that the information should remain private, you may need to cooperate with your ex-spouse one last time to file a joint petition to seal the record.
Contact the Bergen County Family and Divorce Law Firm of Arons & Solomon Divorce Lawyers for more help
Contact the experienced family attorneys at Arons & Solomon Divorce Lawyers today for legal assistance. Visit our law office in Bergen County or give us a call at (201) 487-1199 to schedule an appointment. to schedule a free consultation with our team.