Whether you have a name that people recognize wherever you go, you’re a local public figure or you have a reputation within your industry that you want to protect, it’s wise to consider putting a confidentiality agreement in place before you begin divorce proceedings.
These agreements aren’t just to protect your soon-to-be-ex from taking to social media (or other media) and sharing your flaws as a spouse and a human. They protect the privacy of your financial and business information.
Protecting business information
Divorce requires both spouses to fully and accurately disclose all assets and liabilities. This can include information about their business that’s subject to non-disclosure agreements – such as business performance, partner and client data, merger and acquisition information and more. Information that isn’t available to the public should not become public because it was disclosed in divorce proceedings.
In fact, whether you own a business or are an employee there, before providing any information related to your company to your spouse and their team, it’s best to check with the human resources or legal department to ensure that you’re not in violation of any agreements you signed with them.
What kind of confidentiality agreement do you need?
Often, confidentiality agreements pertain only to financial and business documents. These agreements typically stipulate that anything marked “Confidential” cannot be shared with anyone outside those directly involved in the divorce proceedings – which may include accountants, financial advisors and other experts brought in to consult. They also detail how any documents are to be destroyed or stored.
If you’re concerned about any personal information being made public – such as substance abuse issues and infidelity, for example — you can broaden the scope of the confidentiality agreement. You may have to show that having this information go public would cause financial or reputational harm for a judge to allow it. The penalties for violating a confidentiality agreement are typically financial ones. However, such violations can harm your divorce case.
If a judge okays a confidentiality agreement (and they typically do if there’s a valid reason for having one), it’s in the best interests of your spouse and their team to agree to it. If they don’t, it can look like your spouse plans to make things public that shouldn’t be. A well-crafted confidentiality agreement can protect both sides.