Negotiating a Confidentiality Agreement: How to Protect Your Privacy After Divorce

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Divorce proceedings are often inherently messy by nature. Nobody knows you better than your spouse, and in high-conflict, high-asset divorce cases, messy and potentially embarrassing details of your personal and financial life can sometimes spill out into the public eye. Even if you are not Brad Pitt with paparazzi following your every move, these details are often searchable online. They may come up in future job searches, find their way into Wikipedia articles, or even cause questions from your current employer. Nobody is perfect, and negotiating a confidentiality agreement is often vital to divorce.

Negotiating a Confidentiality Agreement: Why Do It? 

By default, family law cases are searchable by the public. Anyone running a background check on you or your spouse will see your divorce case. On top of that, some vindictive spouses look to talk about what happened during the marriage online. Even if these articles aren’t in the media, word can get around to your friends, coworkers, and family members. Before you know it, people might know information about you like your:

  • Finances
  • Personal or romantic relationships (this can be particularly embarrassing if either partner has infidelity)
  • Medical records and history
  • Business or trade secrets
  • Proprietary information
  • Accusations, whether true or not

All it takes is one spouse to accuse the other of drug use, being a chronic alcoholic, or being physically, mentally, or emotionally abusive to cause damage. Whether the allegations are true or not, the damage in the public eye can be significant.

A confidentiality agreement (called an NDA) legally binds the other party to secrecy. If you want to protect your privacy after the divorce proceedings, you need an NDA.

When done correctly, NDAs are legally binding contracts with stiff penalties for leaking information. For example, if a vindictive spouse decides to talk about your past love interests, they may face financial penalties or other injunctive relief.

A good California divorce attorney can help you draft a confidentiality agreement that will hold up in the court system.

Do Confidentiality Agreements Have to Be Part of the Settlement?

No, confidentiality agreements can come at any time. Sometimes, it becomes apparent after the divorce has been finalized that there’s a need to keep things private. In that case, it’s always possible to negotiate this agreement with the ex.

However, remember that your best chance at negotiating a confidentiality agreement is during the divorce process. An ex-spouse is far less likely to cooperate and sign an NDA after the divorce than as part of the settlement. Quality California divorce attorneys can help clients recognize when an agreement would likely be of value and help them incorporate it as part of the settlement.

Are NDAs Enforceable?

 If written properly, the answer is yes. The key to any NDA is to make it narrow enough. Courts often hesitate to enforce broad overarching NDAs, but agreements that are too narrow have little utility. Your attorney can help you strike the perfect balance where you are specific enough to provide swift, severe penalties for leaking confidential information while not infringing upon the spouse’s inherent right to free speech.

Negotiating a Confidentiality Agreement: Protect Your Privacy

 Divorces are often messy. If you have children, what comes out in the divorce process now may show up online when they search your name 10, 20, or 30 years from now. The Internet has a very long memory for these types of details. Nobody’s perfect, and a confidentiality agreement ensures everyone can move on after the divorce without fear of retaliation or retribution.

If you are considering a divorce or are in the middle of one right now, please call (408) 560-4487 or complete our secure online form to schedule a case evaluation with one of our skilled high-asset divorce attorneys. We’d love to hear about your situation and see how we can help keep the details of your divorce private.

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