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Lambert, Shelton request sealed divorce papers, spark outrage

Country music superstars Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert have filed for divorce — but they are prioritizing secrecy in the matter, having their legal records sealed. Many of the couple’s Michigan fans may realize that the split occurred, but the details are fuzzy at best because of the couple’s petition for secrecy. All records related to the divorce have been sealed by an Oklahoma judge, according to reports. The country stars apparently traveled to a jurisdiction that neighbors their county of residence in a bid to prevent the airing of their private legal matters.

Experts say that obtaining a unilateral sealing order is not only unorthodox, but also irresponsible for maintaining open public records. In most cases, sealing certain divorce items is possible, especially if the information relates to child custody. Lambert and Shelton do not have any children, though, which makes the sealing even more confusing. It is exceedingly rare for a couple to obtain an across-the-board sealing order from a judge, particularly in light of most states’ open record requirements.

Industry insiders speculate that the pair may not have wanted to divulge their income information, but open information advocates say that those numbers can simply be redacted — or removed — from the final version that is stored in public records. Further, state law appears to have been even more egregiously violated because the judge’s sealing order — the document that permits the sealing — is not publicly posted as required. Lambert and Shelton also used only their initials in the divorce filing, a practice that is usually applied for the protection of minor children.

Understandably, stars want to make sure that their division of property and other financial aspects of divorce remain private. However, the divorce records are considered public legal documents, which means that they are almost always given the same treatment as all other open records. Couples who wish to seal their divorce records may run into challenges in a Michigan court if a “compelling interest” for privacy cannot be proven.

Source: Fox 411, “What are Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert hiding in sealed divorce records?,” Sasha Bogursky, July 29, 2015