Are Divorce Records Public in Minnesota?
In Minnesota, a divorce proceeding is a public affair. It means that any person can go to a particular courthouse and obtain the paperwork relating to a divorce. All that is needed is the last name and the first name of the divorcing couple.
Consequently, all documents filed with the Court are accessible and available to the general public. For example, a divorce decree for any given case is a public record. In addition, all Minnesota cases can be tracked by searching the Court’s website: http://pa.courts.state.mn.us/default.aspx
Can Divorce Records Be Sealed?
In some circumstances, it may be possible to seal a divorce file.
The first method is for both the parties to agree to seal the file, in which event, the agreement is forwarded to the Court. The Court still has the discretion to deny the request to seal the file, even if both parties have agreed to seal it. The Court must balance the public policy of divorce proceedings being public and the parties’ reasons for requesting that their file be sealed. If the Court is satisfied that there is good cause for the request to seal the file, the Court can sign off on the parties’ agreement and the file is sealed. The bottom line is that just because two (2) divorcing couples agree to seal their divorce file does not mean that the Judge will necessarily agree to go along with the agreement.
The second way to seal a divorce file is to bring a motion before the Court along with the appropriate paperwork. This consists of a written motion along with an affidavit setting forth the reasons or good cause why the divorce file should not be made public. Examples include celebrity divorces or where the divorce being made public would adversely impact the livelihood of the divorcing couple and consequently, any minor children of the divorce. This is a fact-based analysis. If the Court grants the motion, the divorce file is sealed. It is important not to confuse a divorce proceeding, which is public, with proceedings such as Paternity (where a child is born to parents who are not married) or Order for Protection proceedings (Domestic Abuse). Paternity and Order for Protection Proceedings are not public and only the parties involved in the case and their respective attorneys can access the Court file. If you have any questions regarding divorce records, contact our Minnesota Divorce Attorneys for a free consultation.