Last Updated on September 28, 2023 by Turner Thornton
If you are in the process of divorce, you may be surprised to learn that the law requires you to turn over voluminous information to your spouse and his or her attorney. This includes financial records, property documents, child insurance information, the list goes on. The good news is that the law works both ways, meaning your ex will also have to disclose their information.
In this article, we are going to go over the Texas divorce discovery process and explain the rules and what information must be exchanged between the parties and why. But first, please watch this video by experienced family law attorney Turner Thornton.
What is discovery in a Texas divorce proceeding?
Discovery is a process involving the exchange of documents, information and other potential evidence between parties to a lawsuit or, in this case, a divorce or child custody case. The parties must comply with the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, which govern divorce proceedings.
Discovery is a very important part of divorce and child custody proceedings because it allows both parties to have a full and complete picture of the other party's assets, liabilities, income and expenses. This information is critical in negotiating a settlement that is fair to both parties.
Discovery can be a very time-consuming and expensive process, but it is worth it to have all of the information on the table before making any decisions.
What information is required to be exchanged in Texas' divorce discovery process?
In January 2021, changes were made to the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure which affected the Texas divorce discovery process. The biggest change was that courts now require the exchange of information at the beginning of the process, without having to be requested by the opposing party. The following information is required to be exchanged at the outset without anyone actually formally asking for it:
* Financial Records: This includes tax returns, pay stubs, bank statements, credit card statements, retirement and investment account statements.
* Property Documents: This includes deeds, titles and mortgage documents.
* Persons with Knowledge: This includes the names and contact information of any person who has information relevant to the divorce or child custody case, such as family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers, doctors, financial advisors, accountants, doctors and counselors.
* Insurance Information: This includes all personal, property, automobile, health, life and insurance documents.
* Additional Evidence if Children Are Involved: All health insurance documents for the child/children.
How long do you have to turn over documents in Texas divorce discovery process?
In Texas, both spouses (through their attorneys) must provide their initial disclosures to the other party within 30 days of entering into divorce proceedings. In other words, as soon as you are served with divorce papers or file for divorce, you have 30 days to turn over documents. These initial disclosures must include a complete list of all assets and liabilities, as well as income and expenses.
What if you can't find all the documents?
If you cannot find all of the required documents, you must still provide your spouse with a list of what you have been able to locate and a description of your efforts to locate the missing documents.
What happens if you don't turn over documents?
It is mandatory to provide discovery and if you do not, the court can impose sanctions on you, which can include ordering you to pay your spouse's attorney's fees or even holding you in contempt of court. There's also a good chance that you will lose your case.
Questions about Texas’ Divorce Discovery Process? Contact Us.
If you are contemplating divorce, it’s important to retain an experienced attorney who knows the intricacies of the Texas divorce discovery process. It will take efficiency and organization to comply with the Texas divorce discovery rules. We can help. Our team has helped hundreds navigate divorce and child custody proceedings and we can help you, too. Give us a call today at 817-900-3220 to schedule a consultation. We will explain how we can guide you through this difficult time and achieve a favorable outcome.