Public Records and Privacy in Family Law Cases
North Carolina family law cases litigated in court are generally matters of public record. If either party files in court for divorce, child custody, child support, alimony, post separation support, or equitable distribution, those pleadings become a permanent public record. Court hearings in North Carolina family law cases are also generally open to the public, and anyone can personally observe the hearing--or even request an audio recording of the hearing. The public nature of North Carolina family law cases means a family’s intimate details about a marriage and children can be obtained by anyone.
Private financial matters, such as a party’s income or the monetary value of a marital estate, are also available for public disclosure. Nearly all North Carolina counties do not have an online pleading system, so pleadings are not accessible by Google search. On the contrary, each county’s court file is available for personal inspection through the Clerk’s Office upon request. Because court filings and hearings are available to the general public, many parties desire to keep their case out of the court system. If parties are able to resolve their family law issues outside of court, they are free to enter into a legally binding out-of-court contract, often a separation agreement.
In most cases, separation agreements or similar contracts are private, and will never become a part of public record--making them inaccessible through the clerk’s office. While it is possible to avoid the court system for most family law issues, it is necessary to utilize the court system to obtain a judgment of divorce. However, depending on what the parties have resolved outside of court, the court file for Divorce many only reflect minimal details such as the parties’ date of marriage and date of separation. This allows parties to file for divorce, while keeping other private matters out of public record.
Contact Our Charlotte Family Law Attorneys Today
If you are interested in speaking with a Charlotte family lawyer you can trust to advocate on your behalf, look no further than Miller Bowles Cushing. Our legal team as the experience, skill, and determination to resolve your family law concern in a seamless manner.