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Should your divorce process include the execution of a confidentiality agreement?

On Behalf of | Apr 19, 2024 | Family Law |

Most people have seen reports of celebrities, politicians and high-profile executives requiring their spouses to sign non-disclosure or confidentiality agreements as part of a divorce settlement. In fact, anyone can seek one if they have a valid concern about the information disclosed in their divorce paperwork being made public, and the potential harm that a disclosure like this could do.

A confidentiality agreement that’s part of a divorce generally applies to both spouses, even if one needs it more than the other. It typically stipulates that the parties will never share details of the divorce or information disclosed as part of the process.

Why do some people ask for them?

Divorcing spouses may seek confidentiality agreements for a mix of personal and professional reasons. For example, if a person owns a business and has a solid reputation in their community, they don’t want it made public that they had extramarital affairs, are battling substance abuse or have a public biography that’s less than truthful. Further, any financial information they must disclose about their business could be used against them by competitors.

If a spouse is a partner in a professional practice or other business, their partnership agreement may require a confidentiality agreement in a divorce. If a spouse submits any proprietary information as part of their financial disclosures, a confidentiality agreement or at least confidential notations on the documents may be required. The agreement may include language around who can see those documents and how to dispose of them.

How to seek a confidentiality agreement

It’s best to request a confidentiality agreement at the beginning of the divorce process before any information is exchanged or provided to the court and before any testimony. The request must be approved by a judge, so it’s important to present valid reasons why it’s necessary, even if the other spouse agrees to it. That can help to prevent it from being used as a bargaining chip in the divorce and helps ensure that it’s fair to both sides.

If a confidentiality agreement is approved, there will be sanctions detailed in case someone violates it. These may include a contempt of court citation and/or fines.

If a divorcing spouse believes a confidentiality agreement is necessary or if it’s required due to the sharing of propriety business information, it’s crucial to learn more about how they’re used and how to make a strong case for one. Seeking experienced legal guidance is a great way to get started.