Divorce and Confidentiality
In Florida, all divorce cases are public records. Florida has a broad public records law. In fact, the majority of domestic relation cases are public records including paternity cases and child support cases. The major exception to the public records law in Florida is adoption cases. Adoption records are not public records. Adoption records are sealed and require a court order to open. The only people who can obtain adoption records are the parties to the action. The purpose of keeping these records sealed is to protect the children involved. In addition to adoption cases, termination of parental rights cases and dependency cases are also not public records.
If records are public, it means that any person can get information regarding a person’s divorce or other type of domestic relations case. You do not have to be a party to the action to get information. This information can be found through the Clerk of Court in the county in which the case was filed. The Final Judgment of Divorce can also be found through the Florida Vital Statistics Office and you can obtain documents for a fee. What differs from county to county is the manner in which the public records are available. In some counties, all divorce records and other domestic relation records can be accessed online through the Clerk of Court website. Often however, only the title of the document filed in the case can be viewed, and not the content of the document.
Other counties have no online access available, and you must physically go to the courthouse of the county in which the case was filed and view the file. Some counties will allow you to view the physical file, and others have a public records room in which you can view the documents on a computer, while then paying a fee to print documents if you wish. The one thing that is consistent among all counties is regarding the confidentiality of certain portions of records that have been filed. The name and date of birth of children are confidential, as well as social security number, bank account information, and other sensitive information. If you view a record with this information, it will be redacted and not viewable.