Divorce cases require spouses to exchange financial information and other material to identify marital assets and debts subject to division. However, should those documents be safeguarded by a confidentiality agreement?

Typically, information not publicly available to your spouse before the divorce process began should not be accessible to others because of the divorce, without putting protections in place. This can include private business information, such as client data and company financials.

Spelling out who gets access to information

Confidentiality agreements determine which information is considered private, how it can be accessed and by whom, such as:

  • Attorneys for both parties
  • Divorcing spouses
  • The court overseeing the divorce
  • Experts retained by one or both parties
  • Others involved in the case

The agreement prohibits each of these parties from giving the information to anyone else, including family, friends, news organizations or social media. Anyone violating the agreement can face serious consequences, including financial penalties. The document should also stipulate how to dispose of the information at the end of the process.

The dangers of not having a confidentiality agreement

For the most part, it’s unnecessary to include personal financial information in this type of agreement, except in the case of someone in the public eye. But there are many reasons why business owners want to protect their company’s financial information, such as a business that’s up for sale. Without these protections in place, potential bidders could obtain this data through the discovery process.

Additional concerns over privacy can happen even if you aren’t a business owner. Employees who need access to corporate records to establish their compensation may be required by their employer to have a confidentiality agreement in place before releasing those documents to protect their own interests.

It’s better to be safe than sorry

Courts typically allow a lot of latitude over confidentiality agreements. If you are unsure whether you need one, an experienced family law attorney can help you determine whether the information in question needs to be protected. If you have a legitimate reason, the other side shouldn’t have any grounds to object.