To complete a divorce, a judgment of divorce must be entered with the court. Once the judgment of divorce is signed by the judge, it becomes a public record. Anyone may go to the clerk of the court and request to review and copy the documents contained in your divorce file, including your judgment of divorce.
How can divorcing couples protect their privacy? The answer: through a confidential settlement agreement.
WHAT IS A CONFIDENTIAL SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT?
Often times, parties want the provisions of their divorce agreement to remain confidential from the public. Keeping the terms of your divorce agreement private can be achieved through a confidential settlement agreement. And as the term implies, that is exactly what a confidential settlement agreement does – keeps your private life away from the public.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A JUDGMENT OF DIVORCE AND A CONFIDENTIAL SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT?
A judgment of divorce is a public document whereas a confidential settlement agreement is a private contract. It is important that the parties’ assets and liabilities (and division thereof) be clearly addressed. Because a judgment of divorce is public, it should never contain sensitive information such as bank account, credit card, or retirement account numbers. However, because a confidential settlement agreement is not filed with the court, it can contain this information.
HOW DOES A CONFIDENTIAL SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT WORK?
A confidential settlement agreement is a binding contract between the parties that is merged and incorporated into the judgment of divorce. This means that the actual document and terms identified within remain confidential (as the actual confidential settlement agreement is not filed with the court). The parties and their attorneys retain copies of the confidential settlement agreement. The only time that a confidential settlement agreement is filed with the court is if one party violates the terms, and the other party seeks assistance from the court in enforcing the terms.
AN ATTORNEY WHO UNDERSTANDS YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES. GRAND RAPIDS COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE ATTORNEY SERVING KENT, OTTAWA, AND ALLEGAN COUNTY.
At Schmitt Law, PLLC, our clients benefit from years of experience. We treat every client as an individual, taking the time to understand your unique situation, so as to best advise you on the steps you should take. Whatever stage your life is at, you can trust Schmitt Law, PLLC to guide you through the legal process with expertise and compassion, because we understand that family comes first. Contact Schmitt Law, PLLC today by completing our online contact form, or calling us at (616) 608-4634 to schedule a consultation.