Divorce and Privacy

Huma Abedin and Anthony Weiner’s divorce are a lot of things: “Messy” comes to mind, and definitely “sordid.” It has also been front page news. However, now the divorce is going to be closed to the public. Is it about reconciliation or privacy?

A Very Public Divorce

Huma Abedin was a top aide to former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and privacy has always been a struggle. She has been front page news most recently, as the State Department posted a number of her emails after the messages were found on her husband’s laptop by the FBI.

Several of the released documents were found to contain information classified “confidential,” and were heavily redacted.

If that wasn’t front page news enough, her husband is Anthony Weiner. Anthony is the former Democratic congressman from New York who won seven terms as a Democrat, never receiving less than 60% of the vote. Politicians don’t get elected by being shy.

In May last year, Weiner pled guilty to a sexting charge of transferring obscene material to a minor, and was sentenced to 21 months in prison and is required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

According to the New York Post, the couple withdrew their divorce proceeding from the New York court where it was being heard. They’re not reconciling though, it appears they are trying to keep their divorce private.

Divorce Privacy

I’ve written about the issue of privacy and public access to divorce records before. For example, in the Tom Cruise divorce, his ex-wife could have filed in New York or California, but they chose New York because of privacy laws there.

In Florida, court filings are not private. In fact, it has long been the policy of Florida that all state, county, and municipal records are open for personal inspection and copying by anyone.

In Florida, privacy is not the rule. Far from it. Here, providing access to public records is an affirmative duty of each agency. And, any agency that maintains a public record has to provide to any person, a copy of any public record which is not exempted by law from public disclosure.

The Weiners

In a statement to the New York Daily News, Abedin’s attorney said it’s for the privacy of their family.

“In order to ensure the proceedings have a minimal impact on their child, the parties have decided to finalize their divorce swiftly and privately.”

Privacy would certainly be a change for this couple’s tumultuous and much-scrutinized marriage, which is heading to an end after the sexting scandals.

The New York Daily News article is here.