US NASCAR boss loses legal fight to keep divorce documents sealed

The North Carolina Court of Appeals has upheld an earlier ruling that documents relating to the divorce of NASCAR chairman Brian France should be made public.

France, who is also CEO of the stock car racing association, has fought to keep the documents private for several years. They relate to his second divorce from wife Megan, who is from Charlotte, the state’s largest city. The pair have married and divorced twice.

According to a report in USA Today, when the pair separated in 2008, France agreed to pay her $9 million, along with $32,000 per month in alimony (maintenance) for a period of ten years, and $10,000 a month in child support.

North Carolina law regards divorce proceedings as public records, unless they are specifically sealed by a judge. This is sometimes done in high profile divorce cases and child custody disputes.

France’s lawyers had appealed an earlier ruling that the public interest in open court proceedings outweighed his interest in keeping the proceedings private, overturning the decision of an earlier judge. Allowing one judge to reverse the ruling of another judge would lead to “judicial anarchy”, the lawyers claimed.

However, the Court of Appeals unanimously upheld the earlier decision to unseal the documents. France will now have to apply for permission to appeal to North Carolina Supreme Court.

According to USA Today, the chairman filed a lawsuit against his former wife last year claiming that she had illegally recorded phone calls between them.

France lives in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Photo by Andrew Dawley via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence

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