The Observer filed for the motion after a Mecklenburg County judge sealed the entire complaint. The paper though it was an “unusual move in a court system that typically allows widespread access to courtrooms and documents,” insisted that France’s wishes did not supersede
Observer Editor Rick Thames explained to WCNC. Com why they wanted the documents to be public, stating that the court system draws much of its credibility from being open. “Our main point all along is that our courts are open for a reason and we should not be making an exception in an individual case like this,” Thames said.
Lawyers for France argued that the documents should be kept sealed and closed to the public. But a North Carolina
Supreme Court disagreed and overturned the previous judge’s decision.
There is a lot of interest surrounding France’s divorce since he is the chairman of NASCAR as well as the owner of several motor sports teams based in the Charlotte area. He took the Chairman position after
France and his wife Mary, between 2001 and 2008, were married, then divorced, and then married again and divorce again.
Documents from France’s second divorce states the amount of support Megan France is supposed to receive along custody arrangements for the couple’s twin daughters, which stipulates that children must be raised in Mecklenburg County.
It also showed that according to the 2008 settlement, Brian France agreed to pay his estranged wife $9 million, along with $32,000 a month in spousal support for ten years and an additional $10,000 a month for child support.
After their second divorce, the couple agreed that if they sued each other in the future those proceedings would use their “best efforts” to keep their settlement out of the public record.
According the WCNC, the case began in 2008 when Brian France “won a ruling from Mecklenburg Judge Todd Owens, who granted him the right to file a sealed lawsuit against Megan accusing her of breaching the divorce agreement’s confidentiality clause.”
Confidentiality agreements are not unusual in high-profile divorce cases, since allegations can surface which could damage the either of the divorcing parties’ public reputation, and paint them in a negative light. Divorce issues such as infidelity or other marital misconduct can be kept from public scrutiny if the couple signs a one of these agreements.
Last month when reality star Kim Kardashian finalized her close to 18 month divorce from NBA player Kris Humphries, she insisted that Humphries sign a confidentiality agreement, keeping the final settlement amount from the public.
Breaching a confidentiality agreement is a civil matter, which gives the “harmed” individual the right to sue the individual who disclosed private details. The compensation awarded in these cases is largely dependent on the harm caused and other circumstances surrounding the breach.