A recent California appeals court ruling handed down in Santa Ana upheld a lower court’s decision concerning Orange County divorce records. On its face that might sound obscure, but the decision should serve as a warning for couples considering an Orange County divorce but eager to keep their affairs out of the public eye.
The case concerns the Orange County divorce records of Henry Nicholas, a co-founder of integrated circuit manufacturer Broadcom. In 2007, the Orange County Family Court judge hearing the divorce case “sealed all documents in the court file, including documents related to family finances and holdings in Broadcom,” according to a recent report at Law.com. The following year the case was reassigned to a new Orange County Superior Court judge who reversed the earlier ruling.
Now, the Santa Ana court has come down on the side of openness. “We reject Nicholas’ efforts to treat sealing orders as if they (are) sealed caskets rather than presumptively open court records,” the court wrote, according to Law.com. According to OC Weekly Nicholas had argued that the records should remain off-limits in an effort to protect the privacy of his children. The newspaper notes, however, that critics have long believed Nicholas was more interested in keeping embarrassing personal details out of the media.
Whatever the reason for Nicholas’ reluctance to see his filed unsealed his case is a reminder that the status of records can change over time. It has been nearly three years since the former Broadcom executive’s divorce was finalized, but the files are now likely to come into the public record.
Of course, most people do not have Orange County divorces whose details would be of much interest to the wider world. Equally obvious, however, is the observation that, all things being equal, most people like to maintain their privacy. The Nicholas rulings by both the Orange County judge and the Santa Ana-based appellate court are a reminder that people looking to keep their affairs private need aggressive legal representation from an Orange County divorce lawyer with detailed knowledge of the Southern California family court system. Keeping your private information out of the public record can be difficult, but your odds of success are much higher when working with an experienced Orange County divorce and family law attorney.