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NASCAR exec loses bid to keep divorce records sealed

Many North Carolina residents love NASCAR, so they are no doubt familiar with long-time NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France, who helped grow the sport into the household name that it is today. So many North Carolinians are likely also familiar with France's long-running, acrimonious divorce from his wife.

France has fought for years to keep records of his divorce sealed. After marrying and divorcing the woman, they married and in 2008 divorced again. The high-asset divorce has been a long running saga, with France accusing his ex-wife of taping phone conversations and violating a confidentiality agreement.

But the North Carolina Court of Appeals unanimously ruled recently that his divorce records should be unsealed, upholding the public's right to know. This was France's second time appealing keeping the records sealed before the appellate court.

According to court records, France paid his ex-wife $9 million, pays alimony of $32,000 a month for 10 years, and pays $10,000 a month in child support. The exact reason why he wants to keep the records sealed is unknown at this point, but it should be a lesson for any North Carolina couples contemplating a divorce.

In North Carolina, as in many other states, court records are treated as public records. It is up to a judge's discretion whether to seal records to prevent embarrassment or damaging information from getting out.

Since France has such a vast fortune, it is likely that he does not want his financial dealings being exposed to public scrutiny, but he, like anyone else in North Carolina, must be aware of the risks when going through the divorce process.

Source: Associated Press, "Court upholds order on NASCAR CEO's divorce case," Michael Biesecker, Dec. 31, 2012

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