Last Updated on July 19, 2023 by Turner Thornton
Facing a divorce can be overwhelming, but arming yourself with the right knowledge and tools can make all the difference. Our ultimate Texas divorce checklist, which was created by our team of experienced Fort Worth divorce attorneys, will help you stay organized and informed throughout the process. After all, knowledge is power.
Your Divorce Action Plan
If you are headed for divorce, it’s important to have a game plan. You want to have all of your ducks in a row so the process can go as smoothly as possible. If you follow this Texas divorce checklist, you will feel less stressed and be better prepared for the long and emotional road ahead.
Get an Experienced Divorce Attorney
The first item on our Texas divorce checklist is the most important. It’s imperative to enlist the help of an experienced and skilled family law attorney. Do not try and go it alone. An experienced divorce attorney will help you navigate the divorce process, inform you of your rights and legal obligations, provide valuable advice, and work to obtain the most favorable outcome possible for you and your children.
The professionals at Varghese Summersett Family Law Group are here to guide you through this life-changing decision with expertise and empathy. Call us at 817-900-3220 to schedule a consultation today.
Decide Where to Live
Determine whether you’ll stay in the marital home, move to a new residence, or stay with family or friends during the divorce process. Consider both the financial and emotional implications of each option and start making necessary arrangements. If both you and your spouse want to stay in the marital home, it could get contentious. It’s definitely important to consult with an experienced divorce attorney to find out your options. We can help.
Open New Accounts, Credit Card in Your Name
Opening a new checking and savings account in your name is crucial to ensure you have control over your finances during the divorce process. As soon as the divorce petition is filed, start a retirement account by having your paychecks direct deposited to your account.
Likewise, if you don’t have a credit card solely in your name, now is the time to apply for one. Having a credit card solely in your name will provide you with financial independence, especially during an emergency. It can also help to build your credit score, which is very important when you’re starting out on your own.
If you are getting a divorce, it is essential to gather evidence that can support your case in court, particularly if you anticipate disputes over assets, custody, or alimony. Here are some suggestions for what documents related to you may want to take pictures of:
- Property and assets: Take photographs of all shared and personal property, including real estate, vehicles, furniture, jewelry, art, and other valuable items. This will help establish the value and condition of these assets at the time of separation.
- Personal belongings: Take pictures of your personal belongings, especially if you are concerned about your spouse hiding, damaging, or disposing of them during the divorce process.
- Incidents of abuse or neglect: If there have been incidents of abuse or neglect, take photographs of any injuries, property damage, or other evidence that supports your claim.
- Communication records: Photograph any relevant text messages, emails, or social media posts between you and your spouse that may support your case.
- Parental involvement: Capture moments that show your involvement and commitment as a parent, such as attending school events, participating in extracurricular activities, and spending quality time with your children.
- Spouse’s behavior: If your spouse is engaging in activities that may negatively impact their ability to parent, such as substance abuse, take pictures to document the behavior.
Consult with a divorce attorney to ensure you are gathering the most relevant evidence for your case. Always abide by the law and avoid any actions that could be considered harassment or an invasion of privacy.
Change the passwords on all of your personal accounts, including social media, email, and online accounts. Do not, however, change passwords to joint accounts – at least not without consulting with your attorney first. Whatever you do, don’t share your new passwords with your spouse or anyone who might give them to your spouse.
Gather Information on Your Children
If you will be dealing with child-related issues such as custody and child support, it’s essential to gather relevant information about your children. This information can help the court make informed decisions and ensure the best interests of the children are prioritized. Here’s a checklist within our Texas divorce checklist on what information you should gather:
- Identification: Collect your children’s birth certificates, Social Security cards, passports, and any other identification documents.
- Medical records: Gather your children’s medical records, including immunization history, medications, allergies, and any ongoing medical treatments or conditions.
- School records: Collect report cards, standardized test scores, attendance records, and any other relevant school records for each child.
- Child care arrangements: Document information about your children’s current childcare providers, including their contact information, fees, and schedules.
- Daily routines: Keep a record of your children’s daily routines, including their typical wake-up and bedtime, meal times, extracurricular activities, and homework schedules.
- Parental involvement: Document your involvement in your children’s lives, such as attending school events, helping with homework, and participating in their activities.
- Special needs: If your child has special needs or requires accommodations, gather any relevant documentation and records detailing the necessary support and services.
- Records of communication: Keep records of communication between you and your spouse regarding your children, including text messages, emails, and written notes.
- Parenting concerns: If you have concerns about your spouse’s parenting abilities or behaviors, document any incidents, evidence, or witnesses that support your concerns.
By gathering this information, you’ll be better prepared to address child-related issues during the divorce process. It’s essential to consult with a Texas family law attorney to ensure you’re gathering the necessary information and following the appropriate legal processes.
Gather Financial and Legal Documents
When going through a divorce, it is essential to gather and organize various financial and legal documents to ensure a fair division of assets, liabilities, and determination of alimony and child support. Here’s a list of some financial institutions and documents you may need during the divorce process:
- Tax returns: Obtain copies of both joint and individual federal and state tax returns for the past three to five years, including W-2s, 1099s, and other tax-related documents.
- Income documentation: Gather pay stubs, employment contracts, bonuses, commissions, and any other proof of income for both spouses.
- Bank statements: Collect statements from all joint and individual bank accounts, including checking, savings, and investment accounts.
- Retirement accounts: Obtain statements for all retirement accounts, such as 401(k)s, IRAs, and pensions.
- Real estate documents: Collect property deeds, mortgage statements, and property tax bills for all jointly and individually owned real estate.
- Titles and loan documents: Gather documentation for all vehicles owned by both spouses, including cars, boats, motorcycles, etc.
- Credit card statements: Compile statements for all joint and individual credit card accounts.
- Loan and debt statements: Gather documentation for all outstanding loans and debts, including personal loans, student loans, and lines of credit.
- Insurance policies: Collect information on all insurance policies, such as life, health, disability, and property insurance.
- Business documents: If either spouse owns a business, gather financial statements, business tax returns, and ownership documents.
- Monthly household expenses: Compile a detailed list of monthly expenses, including utilities, groceries, transportation, and childcare costs.
- Marital and prenuptial agreements: If applicable, provide a copy of any marital or prenuptial agreements that may affect asset division or spousal support.
- Estate planning documents: Locate wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents that may be relevant to the divorce proceedings.
- Social Security statements: Obtain statements that show the earning history and projected benefits for both spouses.
- List of valuable personal property: Compile an inventory of valuable personal property, including jewelry, artwork, and collectibles.
This Texas divorce checklist is not all-encompassing. Again, it is important to consult with an experienced divorce attorney to ensure you gather all the necessary documentation for your unique case.
Prepare for a New Parenting Arrangement
For most people, the hardest part of divorce is the children. It’s important to spend time thinking about their needs and their best interests. If you and your spouse are splitting amicably, discuss jointly what kind of custody and visitation arrangement would work best for the children. If you are not on good terms, speak to your attorney about the various options and what type of arrangement will help maintain a strong relationship between the children and both parents.
FAQS About the Divorce Process in Texas
To “file for divorce,” in Texas, you must file a petition for divorce with the district clerk in the county where you or your spouse have lived for more than 90 days. Once the petition is filed, your spouse will be served with divorce papers and will have 20 days to respond. A divorce attorney at Varghese Summerestt Family Law Group can file the petition and start the process on your behalf.
In Texas, there is a mandatory 60-day waiting period from the date the divorce petition is filed until the divorce can be finalized. However, the overall duration of the process depends on the complexity of the case, the level of cooperation between the spouses, and the court’s schedule. Uncontested divorces with minimal issues can take as little as 60 days, while contested divorces with significant disputes can take several months or even years to resolve.
If both spouses want to stay in a separate property from the marital home during the divorce process, there are a few potential outcomes:
Voluntary agreement: The spouses can try to reach a voluntary agreement on who will stay in the marital home during the divorce process. This agreement can be temporary, and the final decision on the home’s ownership or occupancy can be determined as part of the divorce settlement.
Temporary orders: If the spouses cannot agree, they can request that the court issue temporary orders during the divorce process. These orders can address various issues, including temporary possession of the marital home. The judge will consider factors such as the best interests of the children, financial stability, and any history of family violence when determining which spouse should have temporary possession.
Co-habitation: If the spouses can tolerate living together during the divorce process, they may choose to continue sharing the marital home until the divorce is finalized. This can be a challenging arrangement, especially if the relationship is contentious. Both parties should establish clear boundaries and rules for shared living spaces to minimize conflicts.
Yes, it is possible to file for divorce in Texas without a lawyer. However, filing for divorce without legal assistance is not recommended. Not only can the process be complex and time-consuming, but if you make a mistake in filing, it can delay the process or result in an unfavorable outcome. Additionally, a lawyer can help you understand your rights and protect your interests during the divorce process.
Texas is a “no-fault divorce state,” which means one spouse does not have to show the other did anything wrong in order to get a divorce. However, the Texas Family Code does lay out a number of specific grounds for divorce, including:
- The marriage has become insupportable because of discord or conflict (“No Fault Divorce”
- Conviction of a Felony
- Living Apart
- Confinement in a Mental Hospital
Yes, Texas divorces are public records. The documents can be accessed through the district clerk’s office in the county where the divorce was finalized. They can also be accessed online if the district clerk’s office has an online portal. It’s possible to also obtain them through other Texas public record websites.
To file for divorce in Texas, one of the spouses must have been a resident of the state for at least six months and a resident of the county where the divorce is being filed for at least 90 days. If one spouse meets these requirements, the other spouse does not need to be a Texas resident.
Yes, Texas is a community property state. This means that all property acquired during the marriage, with some exceptions (such as inheritances and gifts), is considered community property and is subject to a just and right division between the spouses. Separate property, which includes assets owned before the marriage, inheritances, and gifts, is generally not subject to division in the divorce.
Temporary orders are made by a judge to prohibit or enforce certain actions until a divorce is finalized. Basically, they lay out the rules to live by while the divorce process is pending. For example, a judge may issue temporary orders regarding the use of joint property, child custody, visitation, support. These orders are typically made at the beginning of the divorce process and remain in effect until the divorce is finalized.
In Texas, pets are considered property and would be subject to the same rules as community and separate property. If the pet was acquired before the marriage or received as a gift, it is considered separate property and will remain with the original owner. If the pet was acquired during the marriage, it would be considered community property. This means the judge will decide with whom the pet lives – unless both parties can come to a mutual agreement.
Divorce is Hard. We Can Make It Easier.
We hope you found this Texas divorce checklist helpful. The better prepared you are, the easier the process will be. Our team of experienced divorce lawyers created the Texas divorce checklist to help our clients through what is often a difficult and emotional journey.
We would be happy to answer any questions you may have and talk to you about your specific situation. Contact us today at 817-900-3220 to schedule a consultation. We serve clients in Fort Worth and the surrounding areas.