Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Case Law Development: California Court of Appeals Holds Laws Sealing Financial Records in Divorce Actions Unconstitutional
The California Court of Appeals has held unconstitutional a section of the Family Code that requires a court, upon the request of a party to a divorce proceeding, to seal any pleading that lists and provides the location or identifying information about the financial assets and liabilities of the parties. The court found the provision violates the First Amendment, which provides a right of access to court records in divorce proceedings. The court noted that there may be instances in which the privacy interests of divorcing parties may override the First Amendment right of access, but the statute was not narrowly tailored to serve those interests and less restrictive means were available. Because the statute places an undue burden on the First Amendment right of public access to court records, the court found it unconstitutional on its face.
Burkle v. Burkle, 2006 Cal. App. LEXIS 51 (January 20, 2006)
Opinion available on the web (last visited January 22, 2006 bgf)
(See also the December 30, 2005 Family Law Prof post on a similar decision by the New Hampshire Supreme Court)