Signing papers for a divorce

You may be concerned about your divorce becoming a public record in Texas. Most divorce records are public once the divorce is complete. However, there are some ways to keep information private during a divorce action. Our Austin divorce attorney discusses what becomes public record after a divorce in Texas and the steps you can take to protect your privacy.

The Document Category Determines the Confidentiality of Divorce Records in Texas

Court records and documents fall into one of four categories. Each category has a different level of confidentiality for public records. Those categories are:

  • Public – These divorce records can be viewed by anyone. They may be available online in some counties.
  • Restricted – These divorce records are marked as containing sensitive data when they are filed with the court, such as Social Security numbers, names of minors, birth dates, financial information, etc. There is restricted access to these records because of the sensitive data.
  • Confidential – These divorce records can only be accessed by the attorneys and parties involved in the divorce case. 
  • Sealed – These divorce records are not public records. They cannot be accessed or viewed by the general public. A family court judge must order the record to be sealed. It takes a court order to unseal the records. 

It is challenging to seal court records completely. There is an interest in making these records available to the public. 

Process for Sealing Divorce Records in Texas

Rule 76(a) of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure gives the court the authority to seal divorce records upon a party’s written motion. The party must file the written motion with the family court and post a public notice. 

The public notice must state that a hearing will be held in open court to decide whether to grant the motion to seal public records in a divorce and provide the date, time, and place of the hearing. The notice must also inform the public that anyone may appear and be heard concerning sealing the divorce records. 

The party filing the motion must prove that sealing the divorce records is necessary and justified. If you want to seal your divorce records, you would need to prove:

  • The divorce involves matters that should not be available for inspection by the public;
  • Sealing the divorce records will not adversely impact the safety of citizens or public health; and
  • There are no less restrictive means of effectively and adequately protecting the parties and specific interests other than sealing the divorce records.

If sealing your divorce records is not an option, you might want to request a protective order from the court. The protective order lists items that must be kept confidential instead of being made available to the public. An Austin divorce lawyer can also help you explore other options to minimize the amount of information available to the public, including participating in private settlement negotiations, mediation, or a collaborative divorce. 

Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Austin Divorce Attorney 

Our Austin divorce attorney at the Law Office of Ben Carrasco works with you to negotiate a private divorce settlement to minimize the public record in a divorce action. However, we are prepared to go to court and aggressively argue your case before a judge when necessary. Call our office to schedule your free consultation to discuss your situation with an attorney.

About the Author
Ben Carrasco is a highly skilled family law attorney based in Austin, Texas, known for his extensive expertise in family law and business litigation. While his primary focus is family law, Ben brings a wealth of experience in litigating diverse business disputes, ranging from breach of contract and collections to business torts, fraud, and real estate matters. In his family law practice, Ben navigates all aspects of the field, including divorce, child custody, support, property division, and more, offering clients expert guidance throughout the litigation process. His legal journey began in complex commercial litigation, initially with a global law firm and later with a prominent Austin-based firm. However, driven by a desire to make a direct impact on people's lives and embrace the human element of the law, Ben transitioned to family law, a decision that has proven to be deeply rewarding. A proud Austin native with roots in California, Ben completed his undergraduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley, before earning his law degree at Stanford Law School, where he excelled in legal writing and served as an associate editor of the Stanford Law and Policy Review.