Most people assume from reading the columns of legal items they see in the newspaper, like Sheriff’s Sales, Bankruptcies, Applications for Wedding Licenses and so forth, that the filing and granting of their divorce must also be published. After all, pick up any newspaper, print or digital, and one will see whose marriages are beginning, beginning to end, and ended. The fact is that when such items are published, what happens is the publication takes steps to check the various court offices, even on a daily basis, to find, copy down and then publish them. Neither our law nor the court requires that such items be published; however, newspapers being what they are, the prime example of “freedom of the press.” It is their right to publish items that are a matter of public record. Nothing sells papers like gossip and marriage, divorce and even death are that for which many folks buy a paper, although few will admit it.
In many county courts, one would have to pay additional legal fees as part of one’s divorce to prevent its publication. On the other hand, there are many newspapers that, for one reason or another, choose not to publish such lurid gossip. In most instances, simple, uncontested, low-cost no-fault divorce actions are filed in a distant county of a comparatively low population where neither party resides. In such divorces, no one that either party knows would see the publication of the divorce in that distant county’s paper. And, as a bonus, the clerks in the county offices that process those divorces have no way of knowing the divorcing couple. I do not have to tell you what a small world it really is. If you decide to go to the great expense of filing locally in your own county seat, someone there will know someone who knows someone else… Not very private whereas a low-cost divorce is entirely private.