New York State law provides that documents filed with a court or court clerk in a matrimonial action, or in a proceeding for custody, visitation or maintenance of a child, may not be copied, nor taken by any person other than a party to the action or proceedings, or the attorney of a party. An exception to this is if a court orders the release of such documents.
In the trial of such an action or proceeding, if the court determines that public interest requires that examination of witnesses should not be public, it may exclude all persons from the courtroom, except the parties to the action and their attorneys. The court may also order the evidence sealed, to be exhibited only to the parties to the action or proceeding or another interested person, on order of the court.
Nevertheless, any person may apply to the county clerk, or other officer in charge of public records within a county, for evidence of the disposition of a matrimonial action. In that event, the clerk or other officer shall issue a “certificate of disposition” certifying the nature and effect of the disposition, but not evidencing the subject matter of the pleadings, testimony, decisions or judgment. The certificate of dissolution must be accepted by county, city, town and village clerks and other municipal officials issuing marriage licenses as evidence of dissolution of a marriage.
The above limitations regarding confidentiality of records cease to apply l00 years after the date of filing of the document. Then all such records shall be public records available to public inspection.