It’s always painful to hang out your family’s dirty laundry in public. If you occupy a fairly elevated position in your community, however, opening your private affairs to public scrutiny can be very damaging to your reputation, your social standing and your business operations.

There are ways to keep your divorce private, however. While the divorce itself will eventually become public record, you can keep the details to yourself. Here’s how:

  1. Negotiate directly with your spouse. Amicable divorces do happen. If you and your spouse are generally in agreement about all the big issues and are willing to engage in a give-and-take on the little issues, you can probably have an uncontested divorce with a minimum of assistance from your attorneys.
  2. Engage in a collaborative process. Collaboration means that you, your spouse and your attorneys sit down together at the negotiating table with the goal of working out a settlement. The pressure is on, however: If you can’t agree, you and your spouse will each have to hire new attorneys as you move to litigation.
  3. Use mediation. A mediated divorce is facilitated by a neutral third-party, who serves as a vehicle for communication between the two parties. If mediation fails, litigation is still an alternative and you don’t have to start over with a new attorney.
  4. Use a private judge. Maybe you and your spouse simply cannot agree on something important. You really feel like a judge should make the call. It may be possible to hire a private judge who can hear your case and issue a legal order, without exposing your entire case to public record.

If privacy is important to you, take steps to preserve it. Talk to a divorce attorney who understands all the alternatives to litigation.