The Tennessee Bar Association is supporting a law that will delay divorce notifications to be written as a public record.

Public record is accessible by anyone say divorce attorneys

As per the Tennessee Bar Association, a dangerous gap opens up when divorce notifications are written immediately for the public record. The public record being accessible to the general public could cause major problems for the couple involved in the divorce proceedings. In addition, newspapers and tabloids are always on the lookout for divorce notifications.

If a person in the public limelight happens to get a divorce from his or her spouse the media may become over enthusiastic and splash it as front page headlines, thereby causing anguish to the couple directly involved in a painful divorce.

Even worse, as the TBA rightfully points out, the person filing for divorce may  not always be on par with the person from whom the divorce is being taken and the latter may not even know that a divorce notification has been filed and written to the public record. As a result the responding spouse may not even be notified while the divorce notification has already become a public record.

This information gap created may cause one of the parties to take advantage of the situation and allow them to take actions before the other is notified. This would also be the case for third party who may take advantage of the ignorance of the responding husband or wife because they know from beforehand via Public Record that a divorce has been filed.

Although this may sound farfetched, it is a plausible situation and some measures must be taken to close this gap in information according to TBA.

The gap in serving notifications to be protected by law

The TBA, consisting of more than 13,000 members, many of whom are divorce attorneys, support a law that will delay writing to the Public Record until the divorce notice is served or for 10 days, whichever occurs first. This way both parties in a divorce are protected, and prevent the divorce from becoming public knowledge during the initial stages.

In the fiscal period 2012 and 2013, 29,700 divorces were filed as per Tennessee Court records, with every filing requiring a protective order to be filed alongside and in accordance with Tennessee law. If the divorce notification is expected to bring forth resistance, the divorce attorney can ask for more stringent protection.

Support for secrecy when serving divorce notification

The consensus for secrecy during the first stages of divorce is an issue that has found support from legal professionals, says Allan Ramsaur, TBA Executive director. There are newspapers in places like Memphis who publish divorce notifications from Public Records the next day! This could cause “retribution” from the respondent. Deborah Fisher, director of Tennessee’s Coalition for Open Government, thinks otherwise. She says that any law that seeks to change public record law is in violation of the peoples’ right to know and needs to be closely watched.