Divorce records are a biography of someone’s life and, as such, should not be released to the public without an individual’s written consent or, in some rarer cases, with an order of the court. However, Washington courts are not required to seal a record if the person seeking the sealing is convicted of one or more crimes that would present a danger to themselves or others. This means that individuals can have their washington state divorce record unsealed against their will even after they are divorced in some cases.
However, here are some reasons to have your Washington divorce records sealed:
To protect children from random identification in divorce records
One of the most basic reasons for sealing Washington divorce records is to protect children from being identified as the children involved in a divorce. This can be accomplished by sealing court records of the divorce and publicizing only a redacted version of the case, with all identifying information removed. This is commonly done when parents are charged separately with negligent homicide in the death of a child (a felony in Washington). In such cases, it is the prosecutor’s job to reunite separated families rather than have them be unknown until years later.
To avoid identifying a victim of domestic violence
Another reason why you may want your divorce records sealed is if your divorce or any other court documents from that time identify you as a victim of domestic violence or stalking. The law doesn’t excuse the violent acts but protects you from having to relive painful experiences when doing so would have negative repercussions on your health or well-being.
To secure sensitive information like social security numbers and bank account numbers
Although Washington state requires all court records to be open to the public, there are exceptions. Social security numbers, bank account numbers, and other such sensitive information may be sealed under the right circumstances. Washington divorce records contain a wealth of information about divorcing parties that can help identity theft (such as social security numbers, place of employment, physical description, and so on), so having it protected is a good idea.
Protecting proprietary business information
One important reason for sealing divorce records is to protect proprietary business information. If you’re a new business owner and want to keep the creative aspects of your company private, there are laws in place to help. You can seek the help of an attorney to ensure your business information is protected.