Privacy in a Family Law Case?

Family court case files are considered public records and are generally made available and accessible to the public. In family law cases involving property division or support, parties are required by the family law rules of procedure to file with the court notarized financial affidavits listing their assets, debts and income.

Given the sensitive nature of this information and its accessibility to the general public, we are often asked whether the filing of a financial affidavit is truly necessary. Unfortunately, in the context of a contested family law action, it is a necessity to file with the court a financial affidavit.

However, in cases that are uncontested or do not involve financial issues, the filing of a financial affidavit can be waived by the parties and the court. In Salczman v. Joquiel, 776 So2d 986 (Fla 3d DCA 2001), the parties reached an agreement prior to filing a divorce action that resolved all financial issues in their case.

The appellate court held that the parties were not required to file financial affidavits under this scenario because all financial issues were resolved by the parties prior to litigation. Where there existed no financial issues, there was no need for financial disclosure.

The take away from this case is that parties who do not want to file financial affidavits in the court's file should work towards resolving their financial issues in advance by agreement to avoid the necessity of filing financial affidavits.