Anonymity in Family Law: Guide to Publication Bans and Sealing Orders

A confidentiality order is a court order that restricts access to or disclosure of any form of information.

What is a Sealing Order?

A sealing order is a court order that restricts access to or disclosure of information filed in a legal proceeding. The purpose of such an order is to protect the privacy and confidentiality of any individuals involved, or to prevent information from being used improperly. Sealing orders may be specific, relating only to specified documents or records, or general, covering all documents in the court file. Generally speaking, these orders are time-limited and will expire at a certain point.

When it comes to family law proceedings, sealing orders can play an important role in protecting the privacy rights of those involved. It is important to remember that sealing orders are the exception rather than the rule when it comes to legal proceedings; this is why they should be requested sparingly and judiciously.




What is a Publication Ban?

A publication ban is a court order that restricts the publication or release of specific information, records, and documents filed in legal proceedings. This type of ban is used to protect the identity of victims and witnesses in a case, as well as to protect any sensitive evidence which may create a security risk or put the life of a police officer, juror, or informant in danger.

In cases involving sexual assault, it is illegal to publish anything that could identify the victim or witness.

The public generally has access to view and make copies of court proceedings but many jurisdictions seal certain documents such as those related to family law and divorce proceedings, child protection cases, and criminal prosecution of minors from public access.


When can a Court order a Publication Ban?

Courts can order publication bans to protect the identity of a victim, witness or other person participating in the justice system. A publication ban may be used to:

Victims of sexual assaults often don’t report the crime due to stigma or fear.

Encourage witnesses who are afraid to testify.

Protect the privacy of other justice system participants.

Protect vulnerable witnesses, including children and victims of crime


When it comes to sealing documents related to a settlement agreement, the courts reserve the right to grant or deny any such request. Each case is carefully evaluated on an individual basis before issuing a Confidentiality Order. If you require more information or would like to book a free consultation with one of our family law lawyers in Mississauga, please contact us at 905-366-0202 or visit our website.


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