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Can a Massachusetts divorce be confidential?

Many people would like to keep their private life just that, private. However, when a divorce is filed in a Massachusetts family court, many of the documents filed in the proceeding may be accessed by the general public. So how does one keep these documents from being viewed? It is a question that might be answered in an out-of-state family court appeal that was argued by the CEO of NASCAR.

The action arises from an agreement that the man and his wife reached in 2008. In that agreement, the man alleges there was a clause for confidentiality. The man reportedly agree to a large divorce settlement that included monthly alimony and child support payments.

A North Carolina newspaper has challenged the confidentiality, stating that it violates fundamental rights for such documents to be available to the public. The man has countered that ignoring the confidentiality agreement would be contrary to contract law. It is unclear when a decision will be rendered by the court.

Understanding one’s right to confidentiality in a proceeding that is normally open to the public can be difficult. However, for many Massachusetts citizens going through a divorce, it may serve their best interest to look into how the matters can remain strictly between the parties involved. Through the use of proper negotiations that avoid the occurrence of a trial, such confidentiality may be established; but, as illustrated in this recent litigation, there may still be substantial gray areas that needs to be explored if such confidentiality is to occur.

Source: The Sun Herald, “NASCAR CEO France fights to keep divorce private,” Emery P. Dalesio, Sept. 25, 2012

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