Divorce and child custody matters are obviously sensitive topics for parents and divorcing spouses. Some people want to keep their family law matters as quiet as possible, and others want to discuss everything with friends, family, coworkers, and anyone else. Whether you are a private person, an open book, or you fall somewhere in between, when it comes to divorce and custody, there is some information that you may be prohibited from disclosing.
Family law attorney, Bruce A. Mandel, has represented clients in divorce and child custody matters for more than 27 years. He understands the importance of confidentiality in divorce and child custody. He also understands the serious consequences people face when they violate confidentiality agreements or court orders in family law matters.
Confidentiality In Divorce
There are many reasons that divorcing spouses may want to keep some details of their divorce private. One reason for confidentiality is that people do not want the financial aspects of their divorce to be made public. They may want salary, investments, net worth, and spousal support information to remain private. They may also wish to keep embarrassing and harmful information such as marital misbehavior out of public documents.
Confidentiality In Child Custody Matters
Like divorce, many parents do not want financial matters such as income and child support to be a part of their public legal record. They may also want to keep other sensitive information such as psychological evaluations and medical information about their child private. Information about abuse, social workers’ observations, and custody scheduling may also be public unless parents and their attorneys work to keep it private.
Keeping Family Law Matters Private
There are several ways that people can make sure that their family law information is kept private, including the following:
- Divorce mediation – Parents and divorcing spouses can agree to schedule a private mediation. Understanding confidentiality in mediation can be complicated, so it is important to discuss this with your attorney.
- Confidentiality agreement – California law permits parties to enter into confidential settlement agreements. Sometimes parents and divorcing spouses enter into these agreements so that the terms of the settlement agreement are kept private and they do not become a part of a public court record. In California, some types of information may not be protected by confidentiality agreements, so it is essential to have a family law attorney review any agreement you may sign.
- Private judge – Private judges are not just for celebrities in California. Parties to a family law matter may agree to have their case decided by a private judge, and this will keep the most sensitive details of their divorce out of public court records.
- Confidentiality order – In some cases, a judge may order that certain family law information be kept confidential. The parties must adhere to the order by not discussing those matters with anyone. These orders are often given to protect children in the middle of a custody dispute.
Violating Confidentiality Agreements And Orders
Sometimes parties violate these orders and agreements by talking about things that they agreed not to disclose. Violations may occur in several ways, including talking about their divorce or child custody on social media. Even when your Facebook posts are private, it only takes one ‘friend’ to screenshot your post and send it to the other party.
Confidentiality can also be violated when you text, email, talk, or otherwise communicate confidential details to anyone else. Talking to your best friend, your mother, your brother, or your child’s little league coach can get you in trouble for violating an agreement or order.
You can unintentionally violate your agreement if someone overhears you discussing confidential details. Even in California, it’s a small world. For example, if you are talking to your attorney on your cell phone in an Uber and the driver overhears confidential information, you have breached your confidentiality agreement.
Consequences For Confidentiality Violations
When someone breaches confidentiality, a court may order the other party to stop violating the order or agreement. Financial penalties may also be imposed. For example, a court may impose monetary sanctions against a party who breaches a confidentiality order. Consequences for violating a confidentiality agreement may involve a specific financial penalty contemplated in the agreement.
Custody And Divorce Attorney
If you are involved in a child custody or divorce case and have questions about confidentiality or any other family law matter, contact The Law Office of Bruce A. Mandel at 424-250-9130 or online and we will get in touch with you.
We have more than 27 years of experience representing clients in custody, divorce, and other family law practice areas. Our goal is to do what is best for our clients, and we offer our compassionate and diligent services at a reasonable cost to you. Follow us on Facebook for updates and information about California family law.