Privacy is almost a foreign concept these days, given that our culture is all about Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The idea behind social media is to celebrate transparency, but sometimes we can get ourselves into trouble when our use of social media exposes matters that should be kept private, especially matters that could affect your divorce proceedings. Celebrities, for example, face public scrutiny when their divorce is played out in the media. For many of you currently going through a divorce, you may already have experienced public scrutiny if your ex-spouse has taken to social media to talk about your divorce. So what options do you have when you want to keep your divorce private? Here are some things to consider:
1. Limit Social Media: If you want your divorce to be private, limit your intake of social media. Looking at compromising photos of your ex-spouse or reading a personal attack by your ex on social media will only upset you. If you know your ex is making disrespectful comments about you over the internet, try to avoid it as best as you can. Similarly, try not to use social media as a vehicle to discuss your divorce with your friends and followers. While it may feel good to express your feelings and frustrations to your online community, it may be detrimental to your case when there is an electronic trail, which could potentially be used against you in the divorce proceeding by your ex. Also, pictures and comments that are posted on social media are subject to interpretation and criticism, over which you have no control. What if you're a public figure or hold a prominent position of influence in your community? This may prove to be more challenging, since you are already in the public eye, but the same rules apply. Be mindful of your intake of social media and avoid posting about your divorce. If you're a public figure, you may also want to limit your interaction with the media as much as possible to avoid speculation and questions related to your divorce.
2. Consider a Confidential Settlement Agreement: When you or your spouse file for divorce, a public record is opened in your state family court system. This is a public file and can be accessed by anyone. If you and your spouse want a confidential divorce, you should discuss a confidentiality agreement so that minimal documentation is filed with the court and available viewing by the public. By agreeing to a confidential settlement, any agreements reached between you and your spouse related to the divorce, including, for example, the details of child and spousal support or child custody and child sharing, will be memorialized in a written agreement, but not available in the public file. Many celebrities choose confidential settlements, essentially creating a wall of privacy between them and the media. Katie Holmes and her divorce from Tom Cruise in 2012 is an example of a confidential divorce. No details about their settlement was ever leaked to the public. You don't have to be a celebrity to have a confidential divorce. Ask an attorney in your state about filing a confidential divorce and the steps you need to take to keep things private.
3. Hire A Mediator/Private Judge to Adjudicate: Another option to help keep things under wraps is to hire a mediator or private judge to adjudicate the unresolved issues in your divorce. When you litigate matters in open court, the public is welcome to listen in and hear the details of what you're going through. If you are not comfortable being in front of a judge and do not want the public to have full access to your hearings or trial, you may want to consider hiring a mediator or a private judge who can help resolve the issues in your divorce. Be aware, however, that hiring a private mediator or judge could be costly, depending on what is available in your city and state. You will also need an agreement from your ex-spouse before moving forward with this option.
Divorce is not an easy process, but it may be even more difficult for individuals who value their privacy. Fortunately, there are options for those interested in a confidential divorce, and it's definitely something to consider if it's important to you and your family.