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Getting a Divorce in Texas?
Before you file for divorce in Texas--and even before you break the news to your spouse--start collecting the documents you'll need for your divorce. Don't wait to assemble these documents. If you wait until after discussing divorce with your spouse, you may be surprised to find the documents have disappeared.
If you can't find the documents, you may have to obtain them from your spouse's lawyer, which can increase costs. If you and your spouse have an amicable separation, consider making copies of these documents to share with one another.
Among the documents to consider assembling:
- Birth certificates for you, your spouse and any minor children
- Social Security cards for you, your spouse and any minor children
- Your marriage license
- The death certificate of a prior spouse who is deceased
- Any divorce papers related to prior marriages, including the court decree and divorce judgment (copies of Texas divorce papers can be obtained online)
- Separation agreements, antenuptial or prenuptial agreements or other marriage or divorce-related legal agreements you have with your spouse
- Employment contracts
- Federal, state and local tax returns, if applicable, for both you and your spouse for at least the past three years, including W-2 and 1099 forms
- Pay stubs for both you and your spouse, including records of any overtime or bonuses
- Bank statements for any individual or joint accounts
- Brokerage account statements
- Statements for any retirement accounts, including 401(k)s and IRAs
- Life, health, auto and homeowners insurance policies
- Loan documents, bank statements and credit card statements, including documents related to mortgages and vehicle loans
- Leases for property you rent
- Your household budget and/or documentation for essential monthly items such as food, utilities, school bills, clothing, gas and other household expenses
Assets You Own
- Copies of the titles or loan statements for any cars, RVs or boats you own jointly or separately
- Documents describing any property or land you and your spouse own jointly or separately
- A list of valuables you and your spouse jointly or separately own (and copies of appraisals, if available)
- A list of items stored in safe-deposit boxes
Businesses You Own
If you and/or your spouse own a business, you'll also want to collect records that show the company's revenue, expenses, debts, assets and profit, as well as ownership details.
- Federal, state and local corporate or business tax returns for at least the last three years
- Business profit and loss statements
- Business balance sheets
- Business financial statements
- Corporate records and minute books, including the articles of incorporation and bylaws
- Partnership agreements
- Shareholder agreements
- Business credit card statements and records
- Business insurance policies
- Business contracts
- Deeds, mortgages, leases and other real estate interests held by the business
If One Spouse Is "At Fault"
Texas divorce can be either "no-fault" or you can allege one spouse was "at fault" in the divorce. If you expect to allege your spouse was at fault in your Texas divorce papers, you'll want to collect documents that demonstrate why he or she is at fault. If you expect your spouse to claim that you were at fault, you should collect documents that attempt to disprove this. Among the documents to consider collecting if one party or another is allegedly at fault:
- Relevant photographs of you, your spouse and your children
- Relevant letters, notes, e-mails and text messages that show or disprove allegations of fault
- Movies, videotapes or other relevant recordings
Filing for Divorce in Texas
You'll make things much easier for yourself by starting to collect these items even before you contact an attorney or initiate divorce discussions with your spouse. It pays to get your paperwork in order before filing for divorce in Texas, or any state.