This article is from Tracy Stewart, a financial professional based in College Station specializing in collaborative divorce, and a Collaborative Law Institute of Texas board member, whose credentials include CPA/PFS/CFF, CFP and CDFA.
Until recently, I never truly understood the big deal about keeping a divorce out of the court records. Maybe that’s because I am just a bean counter. I had a hard time imagining why anyone in their right mind would slog through someone else’s old divorce records at the county courthouse. Then I read this article, on Melaleuca Inc. CEO Frank VanderSloot, in the Wall Street Journal opinion page earlier this month.
Kimberley A. Strassel’s article states that a consulting company, owned by a former Wall Street Journal reporter, contacted the Idaho Falls courthouse seeking Mr. VanderSloot’s divorce records. It seems this Idaho businessman is a news magnet due to his political contributions. I wondered why anyone would care where this man spent his money. It seems a lot of people care.
While you might not be wealthy enough to contribute $1 million to a national political campaign, you are probably interested in keeping your private affairs out of the local gossip. If unscrupulous people hadn’t realized they could mine for gossip at the local courthouse, they sure know it now.
As a CPA, I see how non-accountants misinterpret financial data. Without the complete picture and without financial expertise, one can frequently come to the wrong conclusion about someone else’s financial decisions. False judgments and false accusations can result. Rumors are difficult to squash. The results can include damage to a family business, lost opportunities and lost income. That, in turn, can result in the inability to pay for your kids’ college and a lower standard of living in your retirement.
The collaborative process is famous for its protection of privacy — and regardless of your political views, Frank VanderSloot’s story is a current, cautionary tale about the accessibility of divorce records worth heeding. Check with a collaborative attorney about the other advantages of this divorce process.