Order To Seal: How to get this DONE, once and for all

Our custody case has been over for a few years. I did get my ex’s attorney AND the judge to agree on during settlement was that our case merited being sealed, so as to keep it from being viewable to the general public. It is an outrageous invasion of privacy that just anyone can go to the courthouse and obtain what are very sensitive, very painful events that were described in great detail in court documents. OUr case involved incest (my ex and my oldest child), domestic violence, and some of the most outrageous things put into motions that would just make your hair curl.

I am the one who requested the order to seal on the basis that my children had grown up in this same county (Wake) and that in their best interests, our family’s dirty laundry should be sealed. The judge agreed, but was emphatic that there are people who need to know who has custody of the one child who is still a minor, etc, and so anything pertaining to custody arrangements and schedules should remain open. Okay, fine. THat’s reasonable.

Two of my children are now legal adults and both have made it clear that they do not want these documents viewable to the general public, either. There was a lot of domestic violence, and my ex, his family and his attorney, encouraged and courted my two older children to get involved. The oldest one testified (and committed perjury, as she has since admitted to me) and the next oldest wrote two affidavits as a minor and both were full of falsehoods. He is still, five years later, terribly ashamed and in a lot of pain over the whole thing.Both want these documents sealed.

And then there is youngest who has yet to fully grasp the whole horror.

My ex’s attorney told me last year that he would handle this part of the case for no charge to my ex, but every time he and I tried to agree on what to put in a letter (or is it a motion? I don’t know) to the judge, we clashed. For example: I was ordered to have a psychological evaluation. I complied. I WISH the results of that test were made public, because the report had nothing negative about me in it at all. The way the opposing counsel was wording this letter to the judge it sounds as though I was ordered to have a psychological evaluation and now I want the results kept hidden. (No one is allowed to see them anyway, but that’s what it looks like).

Not only have my children grown up in this county. I MYSELF live here and anyone who knows my full name can go to the courthouse and get a copy of the whole record. Professionally and personally, this would be devastating to me.

I now realize that there’s just no way I can work with the opposing counsel. I’d like to avoid paying an attorney to get done what was supposed to be done a few years ago. It doesn’t seem like it should be all that hard to get communication through to the judge that it’s time to get these records sealed, and that they ONLY thing that should remain visible to the general public should be my youngest child’s custody order (how often she visits, what holidays, which parent has primary custody, etc).

How can I best get this done? It is causing me a lot of distress, and I just want my family’s privacy protected (and my own, to be truthful, and I see nothing wrong with that). The opposing counsel kept telling me that this particular judge was going to be so hard on this, et, etc, etc, but I know what she said in court in that day: there are people who need to know who has custody and what the arrangements are. And that’s all I am going to agree to having available to the general public.

The other attorney kept mentioning a letter to the judge or her clerk. Is that how to start? Or is it a motion? I do know that any communication I have with the judge would have to be CC’d to the opposing counsel. I just want to get it going.

This was a case that went on for almost nine years (yes, it’s nuts, I know). I want every single thing sealed other than that last document regarding my youngest child’s custody.

How do I get this done so that I can finally put this horrible story behind me as best i can?

I suggest you file a motion to have the records sealed. As you noted, you will want to send a copy to opposing counsel. You will need to work with the family court office to obtain a hearing date, and send the attorney notice of the hearing as well.

Thank you so much for your reply.

Do I or shouod I name each and every document that I want sealed? (There is also a CD of one hearing, and a deposition). The opposing counsel kept saying that every document I’m requesting to be sealed needed to be named. That send like quite an arduous task–especially because there’s only one that the judge said needs to reman open to the public.

Since it lasted for so many years, there are documents that are “spin-offs” of DVPOs. For example, there’s one document that names every single item I could possibly think of that I owned that I wanted out of the home. It is incredibky petty, as he is the one who had the 50b on him but I’m the one who left, so his attorney would not allow me access to the home to move out and rather than have it attached to the DVPO, it’s in the custody documents. It was years ago, it’s a horrible memory, a family’s private agony, and the public has no reason to see it. I don’t see much use in naming it in a motion (“motion filed by xxxxxxx on Dec 12, 2002, re household items blah blah blah”)

And there are more.

The opposing counsel kept insisting everything I wanted sealed needed to be named.

Is this accurate? I’d hate to we this turn into another couple thousand spent, just to get what the opposing side and the judge agreed to–seal the records, presence personal privacy.

Thanks for any guidance.

I agree that the entire file should be sealed, pursuant to the agreement you all had years ago. I would suggest your motion request that the entire file be sealed, less the pertinent order outlining the current custodial arrangement.


Thank you so much for your answer. I’m on this THIS week. I’ve had this thing hanging over my head for years, literally for years. The opposing counsel seemed to want to make it really really difficult, so that every time I thought about it, I’d get this “oh my gawd, no, not today … it’s way too much” kind of feeling. And when I talked to him, via phone, he’d start firing off things that I had to write in a letter to the judge, etc, and it was just impossible to keep up with. So this kept getting pushed back. It’s time. I cannot stand it anymore, and I’m very grateful for your last reply. So I was right–it doesn’t have to be so darned complicated.

Thank you. I’ll post back and let you know how things go.

Your help is greatly appreciated.

Best of luck, do let us know how it goes.