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Privacy Issues in Domestic Cases…Who’s Seeing What?

Justice v. Privacy

Balancing judicial efficiency with your privacy…

When you think about it, a domestic law court case has a LOT of personal information in it.  Tax returns or paystubs to support a child support calculation.  Full names of people.  Their addresses and phone numbers (if they’re representing themselves).  The kids’ names.  Social security numbers.  All of this stuff could be used in identity theft or to commit fraud.  So how is this info protected?

In Utah families cases, as of April 2012, ALL of the documents with the exception of the final order are considered private.  The rule regarding this is in the Utah Code of Judicial Administration.  Down starting at Rule 4-202.01 it starts talking about records classifications (private, public, or sealed) and who has access to them. Private records can only be given to people who were either a person involved as a party in the case or their current attorney, essentially.  So as soon as your family law case is filed is classed as private record.

Except the final order.  I can go online and pull up ANY final order in ANY Utah family case I want at ANY time.  Or I could go into the court house and submit a request to the court clerk.  This is where keeping information sufficiently vague is important for that whole protection from fraud thing.  So this is how you should put information into a document, if you MUST, that will protect it from fraudsters:

Rule 4-202.09 Miscellaneous 

(9)(C) If the following non-public information is required in a public record, only the designated information shall be included:

(9)(C)(i) social security number: last four digits;

(9)(C)(ii) financial or other account number: last four digits;

(9)(C)(iii) driver’s license number: state of issuance and last four digits;

(9)(C)(iv) address of a non-party: city, state and zip code;

(9)(C)(v) email address or phone number of a non-party: omit; and

(9)(C)(vi) minor’s name: initials.

In domestic cases, truly, for the sake of maintaining the kids’ privacy in the publicly accessible final decree, use your kids’ initials to refer to them.  Some lawyers don’t do that.  You make sure that YOUR lawyer does, or that you do it yourself.  Also–DO NOT FILE PRIVATE INFORMATION AS AN ATTACHMENT TO YOUR PUBLICLY ACCESSIBLE ORDER.  For example, information you have to supply in the Required Child Support Location Information form is highly sensitive–Drivers license numbers, social security numbers of the parties AND the kids, birthdates, addresses, addresses of employers…Not stuff you want floating around the internet. File that as a separate document, not as an attachment or an exhibit to the final Order.

Just things to remember.  Your case IS private.  But just make sure you’re not throwing a lot of info out there willy-nilly that will turn up in the publicly available final order…No need to let it all hang out, folks.

All Hang Out

…because letting it all hang out probably isn’t something you wanna do..

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