Can I Keepy My Divorce Records Private?

Can I Keep My Divorce Records Private?

Divorce is a highly personal experience. Most people would prefer to keep details about their divorce within their circle of friends and family. In California, though, most court proceedings are maintained as a matter of public record. Divorce is no exception, but there may be things you can do to keep at least some of your divorce records private.

Sealed Cover

Documents filed under what’s called a ‘sealed cover’ are not accessible to the public. Family law documents that include the following information may be filed under a sealed cover:

  • Paternity;
  • Healthcare records;
  • Financial records;
  • Identifying information about minors; and
  • Information about the identity of a victim of domestic or sexual violence.

If your divorce papers include this type of information, consult with your attorney about ensuring the information is filed under sealed cover.

Motion or Application to Seal

Some documents containing embarrassing or highly personal information are not automatically filed under a sealed cover.

To have these records kept confidential, your attorney may file a motion to seal the record. The motion will be served on all parties. The court then may enter an order granting or denying the request. If granted, not only will the records be hidden from the public, but other parties generally will be prohibited from disclosing information they learn from sealed records.


The term ‘redaction’ means marking out sensitive information in a document. Information may be redacted from documents that are public record. Protected data includes social security numbers and financial account information. So, if you must provide information to the court or opposing counsel that includes your bank account numbers, for example, the account numbers can be redacted.

Learn More About Filing for Divorce

In general, you cannot keep all your divorce records private. However, your attorney may be able to get the court to seal records under certain circumstances.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced at all phases of divorce proceedings. Call us at 415-293-8314 to schedule a private appointment or visit our website. We maintain offices in San Francisco, Marin County, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, San Jose, Gold River (Sacramento), Roseville, and surrounding communities.

Parental Access to Child Medical Records

Parental Access to Child Medical Records
If you have never been denied access to your child’s medical records, you may be unaware of the patchwork of laws that generally grant parental rights to them. However, both federal and state laws govern aspects of parental rights to access their children’s medical records, and there are many exceptions to the general rule of access.

The HIPAA Privacy Rule and Child Medical Records

The main federal law that relates to a parent’s ability to access her child medical records is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Nearly everyone has some basic level of familiarity with HIPAA because doctors must provide patients with privacy notices as a result of this law. Doctors require their patients to provide consent to allow medical information to be provided to certain people, known under the law as “personal representatives.”

What you may not realize is that, for the most part, HIPAA’s Privacy Rule allows you, as a parent, to access your child’s medical records as long as doing so does not contravene another law. The Privacy Rule considers you to be your child’s “personal representative” eligible to receive his or her medical information.

If any of the following apply, you are not considered your child’s personal representative and are therefore usually unable to obtain your child’s medical information:

  • When state law only requires your child’s consent (see list below);
  • When your child receives health care pursuant to a court order or the request of a person appointed by the court;
  • When you agree that your child has a confidential relationship with a health care provider;
  • When your child’s health care provider reasonably believes that allowing you to serve as your child personal representative could endanger your child; or
  • When your child’s health care provider reasonably believes that your child has been subjected to domestic violence, abuse, or neglect or that your child will be subjected to these in the future.
California Laws and Child Records

As you might expect, California has many laws that impact parents’ ability to obtain their child’s medical records. The most general provision is located in California Family Code § 3025, which provides rights, even to noncustodial parents, to a child’s “medical, dental, and school records.”

You will recall that the HIPAA Privacy Rule specifically disallows parental access to records when state laws allows minors to consent for their own procedures. Here is a summary of procedures for which minors may consent in California:

  • Minors of any age may consent to birth control (except sterilization), pregnancy, abortion, and sexual assault;
  • Minors 12 years of age or older may consent to receive HIV testing (if competent to provide informed consent); federally assisted alcohol and drug counseling; outpatient mental health treatment; and treatment for STIs, contagious, and reportable diseases.
In the following situations, California law allows a health care provider to notify parents only if a minor provides consent:

  • Birth control;
  • Pregnancy;
  • Abortion;
  • STIs, contagious, and reportable diseases;
  • HIV testing; and
  • Federally-assisted alcohol and drug counseling.
However, parents must usually be notified when a child seeks outpatient mental health treatment or health care for a sexual assault.

All of these situations are devastating to families, and it can be extremely frustrating for a parent not to be able to obtain records or information relating to their children. At the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger, we understand how important your children are to you. Make the call today to learn how our attorneys can advocate for you: (415) 293-8314.