A fresh perspective on divorce, spousal support, child support, parenting after separation and everything family law

Divorce: why don’t my papers look like Kobe Bryant’s?

Q: What are my divorce documents going to look like?  Why do they look nothing like the documents I see online or on TV?

A: Recently, copies of celebrity divorce documents have showed up on the internet for anyone to view. For example, Kobe Bryant’s wife filed for divorce and the papers were published on popular websites for the public to view.

The reason that the documents look different from that of Kobe Bryant or Arnold Shwarzenegger is because divorce documents look different in each jurisdiction.

Why didn't I get served with something that looks more like this???

In British Columbia, a claim for divorce (formally called a Notice of Family Claim) generally looks like this .  It will be filled out by either you or your lawyer and customized to meet your personal circumstances.

Q: Do I have to worry that everyone can see my divorce documents on TMZ.com…or CNN?

Generally, no.  In British Columbia only certain people can access divorce documents.  It is set out in the Supreme Court Family Rules (Rule 22-8) that only certain people can search a registry file in British Columbia unless the court orders otherwise – the parties, a person authorized by a party or party’s lawyer or a lawyer.

However, the fact that the court does not release your documents to the general public does not preclude your ex-spouse (or soon to be ex-spouse) from sharing them.   It is best to keep your court documents private and only disclose documents if your lawyer advises you to.

In certain jurisdictions, such as in Alberta, anyone can access a family law file if they make the appropriate request to the courts.  Again, it is important to note that things will be different in each province and country so what may be the case for you in British Columbia might not be the same for your sister in Alberta or your uncle in California.

Also, it is important to note court proceedings  are generally open to the public in British Columbia and court decisions are available online.