Open Family Courts and Family Privacy

Open Family Courts and Family PrivacyTypically, family court proceedings involving issues such as custody and divorce are held in open court, and the resulting records become a part of the public record. Many people are shocked to hear their personal information can be accessed by the public and understandably so. Divorce, custody, and similar family law matters are extremely personal, and most people don’t realize that in filing for divorce, their filing then becomes a matter of public record.

But not all family court documents are readily available for the public to read. Certain documents are typically kept out of the public record, such as the results of child welfare investigations, and the court can order any record be kept confidential. The court can order case proceedings such as hearings to be held privately and seal certain documents filed with the court to keep them confidential. The court may also, at its discretion, order that a family law proceeding be held privately.

These measures can help increase the privacy of a case, but what about cases involving sensitive matters such as child abuse and neglect? These types of cases fall under a different set of rules, and their records are kept more confidential than other family law matters such as divorces.

Child welfare litigation cases involving the Department of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P) are held in private courts. The records remain largely out of the public record, and this protects the privacy of the family. The court proceedings including hearings and trials are closed to the public.

When general family law cases involve child abuse or neglect, the rules about what is and what is not public record become a little less clear. And even though child welfare proceedings must be private, certain pieces of information are not protected under this rule and thus could end up in the public record. That being said, you should speak with an experienced New Jersey child custody and child welfare attorney if you have a child welfare litigation case or a family law case and are concerned about confidentiality. An attorney can help you ask the court to keep records private and limit the access to those records. It is essential to have an attorney help you so he or she can strategically request certain actions from the court to maximize the confidentiality of your case.

Family law matters can be stressful, but the knowledgeable attorneys at the Williams Law Group, LLC have the experience needed to defend your rights as a parent and protect your child’s best interests. Located in Union, New Jersey, Williams Law Group, LLC provides compassionate and dedicated legal services to Union, Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Monmouth, and Middlesex counties, and the surrounding areas. Our knowledgeable attorneys handle divorce and family law, child custody, and child abuse/neglect cases. Call our office at (908) 810-1083, email us at, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation and ultimately get you connected with an experienced New Jersey divorce and child custody attorney.

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