Can an 'anonymous' divorce really protect your privacy?

Many high-profile couples have chosen to have their divorce filings listed as "Anonymous vs. Anonymous" to keep the details away from the media. Last fall, we discussed one such divorce -- that of former New York congressman Anthony Weiner and his wife, longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin.

However, you don't have to be a national or international celebrity to want to keep your divorce private. People who are known within their community or their profession, whatever it is, may be concerned that the details of their marriage and family could harm their reputations and careers.

The divorce attorney who handled another high-profile New York divorce -- that of former mayor Rudy Giuliani, says that anonymous divorce filings have gained a certain cache. "After Giuliani, every doctor, pharmacist, and shoemaker wanted to get the anonymous caption. It's an interesting adventure into people's egos," he says.

Despite being able to keep his name out of court documents, the details of Guiliani's bitter divorce became public fodder. The same is true for the Weiner/Abedin divorce. Another attorney who handles high-profile, high-asset divorces says, "The very status of anonymity now creates more of a reason to shine a spotlight on your case." Further, technological advancements have made it easier for anyone who's determined to find information to succeed.

The attorney says that if couples want to keep their divorce "anonymous" to protect their kids, a better solution is to reach an agreement without a court battle. He says he tells clients, "You have young kids, and they're going to Google you one day. Is that what you want?"

It seems that Weiner and Abedin agree with that sentiment. They have withdrawn their divorce filing, but are continuing with their plans to end their marriage. Abedin's attorney says, "In order to reduce any impact of these proceedings on their child, the parties have decided to attempt to reach a settlement swiftly and privately."

If you are concerned about others gaining access to the details of your divorce and/or custody proceedings, either in the near or distant future, discuss those concerns with your family law attorney. He or she can provide guidance on how to proceed given your individual situation.

Source: Town & Country, "Is Anonymous Divorce the Future of High-Profile Breakups?," Leena Kim, Jan. 12, 2018

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